Wednesday, February 28, 2007

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Just TULIP it all (or to-link)


Desiring God Ministries is an endless treasury of sermons, lectures, books, devotionals, and most of all - sound theology.
This is one of those gems I found over there.

What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism

  1. We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
  2. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
  3. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
  4. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
  5. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.
Read on...

On this refurbished site, (ht Tim Challies), a simple search for TULIP produced a very fine collection of materials. I am going to dig in later during the week.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Dawkins Confusion

A must-read:

Naturalism ad absurdum.
by Alvin Plantinga

Message must be clear

If it is not clear, it would be better not to give any message at all. An unclear message confuses, creates new questions, irritates and shadows the picture.



I had a chance to look at a church magazine today. Kyrkans Tidning is its Swedish title. Guys, I do not know what the editor wants to convey. The only information that was clear was the main denominational belonging - The Church of Sweden. All the rest of it is blurred. There were many pages, several articles, one of them calling for the modernization of the Christian Message (apparently the old Jesus from the Bible was too old-fashioned), another article gave a a detailed description of an ecumenical ??? meeting and prayer between Swedish Lutherans and Buddhists (it was soooo nice to light candles together and meditate, and after a while they saw no major differences...).
Many ads, it seems that a lot of churches need new priests (geez, I wonder why ;) ), some ads from Bible schools, and some news from the world.

Somebody who is hungry for THE MESSAGE will put this magazine down and remain hungry. There was no food in it. Nothing. One could expect at least one article directed to seekers...? Or do I demand too much?
Well, the problem is, that THE MESSAGE is foreign to this magazine, and probably, to this church that publishes the newspaper. The message is no longer important, This Message is inconvenient, offensive, too hard to swallow, so it is better for it not to be told. The only message allowed is LOVE. God is all love, all-forgiving, all-forgetting. I guess God has become senile, after all, He has been around for so long, we shouldn't be so hard on Him, right?
Bible reading? C'mon, get real, oh, and BTW, have you heard that Jesus died, was buried and had a wife and kids? So who cares about your fables?
(this last sentence was irony, in case someone wondered)

The Emerging Church of Love?

Heb 4:12-16
(12) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(13) And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(14) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
(15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
(16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This post was referenced here, to my great surprise. Thank You, Pastor Ken.

Monday, February 26, 2007

24



Yep.
What can I say?


I have just watched the first episode of the new season.
Somebody help me to fall asleep!!!!


I have seen all the previous seasons...

One question: can a human being really endure so much pain? This guy seems to be supernatural, to say the least.

And please, DO NOT send me any spoilers. I have to see it with my own eyes.

A Rebel


Every one of us either is one, or has been one. A rebel against God. Fighting the very idea of Him, kicking and screaming against His existence and involvement. There are some sophisticated rebels out there, claiming to be highly spiritual and religious, and yet denying God for the sake of spiritism, magic, sexual practices, eastern cults - you name it, anything without the name JESUS in it.

Then there are those even more cunning, claiming to have the exclusive right to the Truth and understanding, due to the supremacy of a pontiff and their looooooong Tradition. Nobody, apart from their Magisterium, has the right to interpret the Scriptures. Hence, anybody daring to do that, is accursed by them.

Rebels.

And the wolves in sheep's clothing, my TV is full of them, they show up at almost every religious channel, deceiving the naive and seeking, offering them prosperity and happiness, luring the viewer by the multitudes of their followers, making signs and miracles more spectacular than those described in the Bible...

Rebels.

And, of course, the most obvious kind, the atheists. The most pitiful kind, actually, claiming to be rational, and being the most irrational of all people. I suggest you listen to The Narrow Mind Radio this coming Wednesday. Pastor Gene is interviewing Paul Manata. A gem to listen to. (I have already listened to the program - the advantages of podcasting...).

Any other word for rebel? A sinner, a lost soul, a dead person.

The more human society develops, the more elaborate the schemes become. Is there a way to avoid to be deceived? Yes, by clinging to your local church, by studying the Word of God, by praying diligently and sincerely. By having Jesus as your only asset. By not gathering too much on the material side of things. By telling others about the Gospel.
Mat 5:3-14
(3) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(4) Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
(5) Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
(6) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
(7) Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
(8) Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
(9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
(10) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
(12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
(13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
(14) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us



Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Let us early turn to Thee.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Let us early turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.

This beautiful hymn is described in detail here. You will also find some additional goodies.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Plain words of the Gospel

It has been a crazy week, for sure. Children with fever, snow storms, two days at work, and at last - a weekend to fall back and take it easy.

I listened to many podcasts, but the sermon about Christianity by Paul Washer made the greatest impression on me.
No, he does not say anything I had not known before. After all, the Gospel is THE GOSPEL, and I am starting to know my way around my Bible. But there is something very special with the conviction and faith he preaches it. Without the slightest shade of compromise, straight to the heart and mind, not wasting words and time, indeed piercing the soul with the Sword of the Spirit.
I do not need to write more - go and listen, just listen.

Rand over at A Form of Sound Words has got a collection of Paul Washer sermons. Look for them at his sidebar.
I first started to appreciate sermons when I discovered SermonAudio.com.


It is there I experienced the expository preaching first hand, and never have settled for less since. You need a specific sermon, topic, preacher? No problem.



Searching is very easy. And then take your Bible and listen.
Rom 10:15-18
(15) And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
(16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
(17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(18) But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

Friday, February 23, 2007

A short notice to some hostile visitors

Thank You for coming by.

I know that what You find here may seem offensive to You, but the Bible
is offensive to an unbeliever.
Furthermore, this is my private blog and my private property, so if You are my student and want to interact, contact me openly and talk. Hiding behind anonymity only makes You look silly and cowardly.
You have two options - stay, read and comment in a cultivated manner, or leave.
The third option, that some of You apply - namely - sending anonymous e-mails and messages with 'cussing' language - only prove that what Christians write and say is true.

Have a blessed day.

Culture and Christians

No, not nominal Christians, who could care less (in fact, wrong wording here; we must care for all souls; I definitely have to purify my thinking).
The group I have on my mind while pondering on the topic are those "Bible saturated" ones, as John Piper calls them/us.
By the way, I am so thrilled by being able to count myself one of those... Not long ago I would consider it an insult, but God has a peculiar sense of humor.
What is culture? Everything around us that differentiates us from animals, generally speaking. The social norms and regulations, language, art and science, ever changing way of living, trends, fashion, music, education. It is a long list, and by no means finished.
Do we stand by and watch it, or do we influence it somehow? Even by standing by, since every reaction tells a story, even the lack of one? Because if we do not, then there is something terribly wrong with us. Incapacity of making a difference, finally resulting in apathy and depression, or in giving up on a fellow human being.
I am just rambling here, but these are pretty heavy questions. I will have to ask myself those questions.

  • What do I do to make Christianity stand out and claim its place in the world?
  • Do I endorse every new whim of so called artists just because I am afraid of ending up "strange"?
  • When something goes against the will of God - do I express the biblical view on the matter?
  • Do I hide behind the crowd, clothed in my complacency and fear?
  • How much real face-to-face witnessing do I really do?
  • Does it happen that I am ashamed of being "different"?
  • Am I able to explain to my children, and to persuade them, why certain things and behaviors are unacceptable, although their friends may not agree?
  • Whom do I fear most: men or God?
No, there will be no answers here. But ask yourselves you must. Probably often. How is this sanctification going? Asleep a bit? WAKE IT UP.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Listen to this sermon

And be transformed.


The generation of 'damaged' girls

Fascinating, especially in the light of many discussions over at MInTheGap.

**********

A generation of very young girls is being psychologically damaged by inappropriate "sexy" clothing, toys and images in the media that are corrupting childhood, leading psychologists warn today.

They say marketing takes unfair advantage of children's desire for affection and the need to conform, leading to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.

Their report echoes a warning by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and follows a United Nations study last week saying that British children were the unhappiest and unhealthiest in the developed world.

The American Psychological Association's report says inappropriate marketing is leading to the sexualisation of children by a consumer society.

Apart from clothing for five- and six-year-olds, with old-fashioned frilly frocks replaced by mini skirts, plunging necklines and sequined crop tops, the report specifically criticises "Bratz dolls".

These outsell Barbie dolls in Britain by two to one and come dressed in miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas.

Read on...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

But seriously...

TV news watching makes me depressed. The weather outside my window is just boring - I am not a big fan of winter. My children are 'under the weather', so I am spending my days administering pills and trying to survive the chaos of having two lively and whining boys at home. My own headache is killing me.

Anybody still here? I admire you, my dear reader, because I would run at this point :)

So what is there ??? still keeping me going? Well, certainly not my mirror, with all that gravity proof I can see there daily, and certainly not my scales (I consider it an instrument of mental torture for women past a certain age). My husband is all right, in a casual sort of way ;-), I have no pets making me get up in the middle of the night and cleaning the house after them (sorry, Kim, I just couldn't resist this one), there are no MAJOR financial problems, etc, etc, etc. Life is generally good.

Look! I am turning to the positive view now! How did this happened?

Even the blog statistics have not dropped remarkably, and the troll has left, as well. Good.


So why am I writing this post?

I was thinking - we do not really appreciate what we have, until we lose it. Seriously - in this part of the world - we have everything. The food is in the fridge, houses are warm, we can sit and blog on fine computers, so that implies that we have electricity, the cost of getting dental service may be high, but we can still afford it, and almost every aspect of education is open for those who will pursue it.
And then look at those people from the TV news. Poor, ill, skinny, needy, under terror and oppression, not knowing their next day's fate, frightened for their children...


As part of my job I organize trips to Poland for my students, so that they may learn first hand what life can look like and translate the experience into their every day in Sweden. It is always an eye-opening experience. Not only the experience of seeing the less fortunate people, but mostly of learning that those less fortunate have so much to offer to us! It is amazing, the hospitality and generosity of people who do not have much, how deeply the need for sharing is rooted in their hearts. It is a humbling experience, and my students are better people after those trips.



This gets me thinking of Christians and Gospel. Of Christ and Apostles. Of witnessing and sharing the Word. Sometimes we think we do not have much to come with, and yet we have it all, because what we know is the key to the eternal life with the King of Kings. Remember? He was born poor, and he loved the poor in spirit. He humbled Himself, and he loved the humble. We do not need fancy churches and pretty possessions to proclaim His Kingdom. What we have is more than enough, because He lives in us.
Even the poorest Christian is richer than the richest unbeliever, and able of sharing his riches with everybody.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded; nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
(1Ti 6:17)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Eight quotations

In retrospect: Happy President Day, America!




“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
–Thomas Jefferson



“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
– John Adams



“...The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ ”
– Benjamin Franklin



“...Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the Holy cause of Liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.”
– Patrick Henry



“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.”
– Abraham Lincoln



“Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribed for our motto: ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever,’ and exclaim, ‘Christ first, our country next!’ ”
– Andrew Johnson



“We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity.”
– Franklin Roosevelt



“Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
– Ronald Reagan

Monday, February 19, 2007

Two quotations

He was a prominent writer from Poland. He died last month, and this is my way of remembering him. I find these two texts very important; the first one directly describing the difference between Christians and Muslims, the other one pointing to the value of discernment.


Armenia and Armenians

A conversation in Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh in the summer of 1990:
'Our question,' says one of those present, 'is, How do we survive? It has been weighing on Armenians for hundreds of years. For centuries we have had our own culture, our own language and alphabet. For seventeen centuries the Christian religion has been the national religion of Armenians. But our culture has a passive character, it is the culture of the ghetto, of a defensive fortification. We have never imposed our customs, our way of life upon others. A sense of mission or a desire to rule are foreign to us. But we find ourselves surrounded by people who, brandishing the banner of the Prophet, have always wanted to conquer this part of the world. In their eye, we are a poisoned thorn in the healthy body of Islam. They are thinking about how to remove this thorn, meaning, how to efface us from the surface of the earth.'
--Ryszard Kapuscinski, Imperium, 1993


'The Emperor, however, showing more perspicacity than his police, understood that sadness can drive one to thinking, disappointment, waffling, and shuffling, so he ordered distractions, merriment, festivities, and masquerades for the whole Empire. His Noble Majesty himself had the Palace illuminated, threw banquets for the poor, and incited people to gaiety. When they had guzzled and gamboled, they gave praise to their King. This went on for years, and the distractions so filled people's heads, so corked them up, that they could talk of nothing but having fun. Our feet are bare but we're debonair, hey ho! Only the thinkers, who saw everything getting grey, shrunken, mud-splashed, and moldy, skipped the jokes and the merriment. They became a nuisance. The unthinking ones were wiser; they didn't let themselves get taken in, and when the students started holding rallies and talking, the nonthinkers stuffed their ears and made themselves scarce. What's the use of knowing when it's better not to know? Why do it the hard way, when it can be easy?
--Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Emperor

Sunday, February 18, 2007

When others blog


What is the essence of this phenomenon, the very nerve of it? I do not know. Or, I have not thought about it. It had existed for some years, a buzz on the net, more and more people were talking about it, some with excitement, some condescendingly, but for the majority it was an exhibitionistic way of presenting something. Write a diary on-line? Something that per definition was meant to be kept secret and private? Well, all right, one can preserve anonymity to some extent, but come on, if you want to find out who it is, you will find out.
Anyway, it had never seemed important to me. Phew, I had never bothered to read any blogs. But that was then.
No, I will not tell the story of why exactly I joined this crowd. Enough to know, that I did, that I thrive, and that I am going to stay for a while :)

Now, to the main subject. When others blog - what do I look for in other blogs, why do I read some and not the others, which attitudes attract my attention, what kind of information is valuable, what kind of presentation is preferable. This is going to be a tiresome text. Anyway...

A few weeks ago one respected blogger asked for several honest answers about the ideas his readers have about his blog. I do not know how many people answered him, but I did.
This is what I answered to his questions, my today's comments in green (it was 2 months ago):

General/Objective

1. Do you own a blog?

yes (2 of them) - one really, the other one is asleep, serving only as work platform

2. How long have you been reading blogs?

6 months - 8 months, obviously now

3. How many blogs do you read regularly?

about 20 - skim, rss, whatever

4. How often do you read blogs?

every day - that is still right

5. Do you subscribe to blogs (either through RSS/ATOM/XML)?

yes (google reader) - works best for me

6. What browser do you use (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.)?

firefox - although, in all fairness, IE 7 shows sites clearer (I know I sound heretical ;) )


Specific/Subjective

7. What are some things you are looking for in a blog? In a blogger?

personalized writing, something that helps me to differentiate this
particular blogger from others, as well as sound presentation of
his/her thoughts

8. What would you recommend for better blogging in the future?

your blogging is fine, as far as I am concerned... you rock! - that was about this blogger's blog, of course

9. Do you believe blogging has made any impact on culture, church, or Christianity?

definitely; those who blog dig deep into their own thoughts, they also
do more research because they know they are under scrutiny of others;
non-Christians have noticed that we are a community to be treated
seriously, that we know how to use technology, that we are not easily
dismissed, that we discuss and often win arguments;
look at Slice of Laodicea and the impact they make - impressive

10. What do you see are the greatest benefits of blogs?

up-to-dateness, sincerity, everybody may express themselves,
community-making and support

11. What do you see are the greatest dangers regarding blogs?

trustworthiness of the sources used, writer's intentions (although
these will surface sooner or later, given the proper amount of time
and discussion),
the amount of time it takes to read others and to write your own blogs :)

12. What style of blogging do you prefer (e.g. personal/interactive/disclosur
e or impersonal/reporter-like/no disclosure)?

it is captivating to read personal type, no doubt about it, but a good
mixture of the above is all right, I think

13. What form or genre of blogs do you enjoy the most (news/reporting, personal commentary, culture watchdogs, theological/doctrinal, photography, satire/parody, or content-specific)?

it depends on my mood ;) - impossible to answer

14. Do you believe blogging has a promising future? In other words, do you see blogging as a tool to be used or a trend that is useless? Please explain.

This fly is going to stay for some time. In the times when people
cease to trust in official media, in times when we can reach many
others from our own home, and not only reach, but also get their
feedback directly - this is a tool to be used more and more. We may
observe the slight change in technology - probably so, but the general
idea is too attractive to be tossed in any soon future.

15. Finally, do you regret the time you have spent reading blogs, or do you feel that you have benefited from them?

I personally never regret anything I have done in my life ;)
This blogging adventure is very edifying and developing for me, I have
learned a lot from it, both doctrinally, socially and in the field of
writing and English (English is not my mother tongue).


So: what would you answer to those questions? Let me know if you do it on your blog...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Where is this world going?

Death for dollars? Ukrainian infants likely killed to harvest stem cells

Rebecca Grace - AFA Journal OneNewsNow.comFebruary 17, 2007

Evidence from a video obtained by the BBC points to the stomach-churning possibility that healthy babies born in a Ukrainian maternity hospital were taken their mothers and then murdered so that large amounts of stem cells could be harvested from their brains and bone marrow. A spokesman for the hospital denies it is connected in any way with the use of stem cells -- but one Ukrainian couple never saw their newborn daughter again after being told all was well and then told later she had died.

Read on...

Justice of the Lord


Psa 75:1-10
(1) To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
(2) "At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
(3) When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah.
(4) I say to the boastful, 'Do not boast,' and to the wicked, 'Do not lift up your horn;
(5) do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.'"
(6) For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
(7) but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
(8) For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
(9) But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
(10) All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

I like this psalm a lot. If you want to read a simple commentary to it, go there. I think i will have to put it on my mind while preparing my English lessons :).

This is what Matthew Henry wrote about this psalm:

He rebukes the wicked, and concludes with resolutions to praise God.

We often pray for mercy, when in pursuit of it; and shall we only once or twice give thanks, when we obtain it? God shows that he is nigh to us in what we call upon him for. Public trusts are to be managed uprightly. This may well be applied to Christ and his government. Man's sin threatened to destroy the whole creation; but Christ saved the world from utter ruin. He who is made of God to us wisdom, bids us be wise. To the proud, daring sinners he says, Boast not of your power, persist not in contempt. All the present hopes and future happiness of the human race spring from the Son of God. (1-5)

No second causes will raise men to preferment without the First Cause. It comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. He mentions not the north; the same word that signifies the north, signifies the secret place; and from the secret of God's counsel it does come. From God alone all must receive their doom. There are mixtures of mercy and grace in the cup of affliction, when it is put into the hands of God's people; mixtures of the curse, when it is put into the hands of the wicked. God's people have their share in common calamities, but the dregs of the cup are for the wicked. The exaltation of the Son of David will be the subject of the saints' everlasting praises. Then let sinners submit to the King of righteousness, and let believers rejoice in and obey him. (6-10)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today's devotionals by C. H. Spurgeon

I often hear and read an accusation laid forth by the Romanist crowd, that although "we Protestants" claim Sola Scriptura, we do not follow it, because we use interpretations and explanations of men, hence contradicting our own principle. This is supposed to crush our arguments against their Tradition.
However, this is nonsense, really. What we have are the faithful exegetical efforts of our ancestors in Christ, none of them claiming to be infallible, all of them willingly submitting themselves to the scrutiny of other believers, humbly admitting any doctrinal error, if proved to exist. Even today, years after those texts were written, they are not holy just because their authors are dead. We realize it, we admit it, we say it loud and clear.
This is not the same as the Vatican crowd claiming Tradition's right to infallibility, their organization's ONLY right to the interpretation of Scriptures, equalling 'biblical' with 'catholic'. The most ridiculous thing that happens when you talk to a catholic is when he dooms your interpretation as wrong because... the Catholic church says otherwise. Not because the Bible contradicts it or presents us with one vague verse in the apocrypha, but because the Vatican says so.
Enough of that. I have learned to value the men of old and what they have to say. Not only because the men of today respect them, but also because what those men of old write is valuable and educating in itself.
BTW: There's A New Bus in Town :), for all who love the Word of God.

Here you are - C. H. Spurgeon helping us all with this day in our lives.



Morning

“I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”
- Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned ... to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave-a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

Evening

“Thy good Spirit.”
- Nehemiah 9:20

Common, too common is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit. This is folly and ingratitude. He deserves well at our hands, for he is good, supremely good. As God, he is good essentially. He shares in the threefold ascription of Holy, holy, holy, which ascends to the Triune Jehovah. Unmixed purity and truth, and grace is he. He is good benevolently, tenderly bearing with our waywardness, striving with our rebellious wills; quickening us from our death in sin, and then training us for the skies as a loving nurse fosters her child. How generous, forgiving, and tender is this patient Spirit of God. He is good operatively. All his works are good in the most eminent degree: he suggests good thoughts, prompts good actions, reveals good truths, applies good promises, assists in good attainments, and leads to good results. There is no spiritual good in all the world of which he is not the author and sustainer, and heaven itself will owe the perfect character of its redeemed inhabitants to his work. He is good officially; whether as Comforter, Instructor, Guide, Sanctifier, Quickener, or Intercessor, he fulfils his office well, and each work is fraught with the highest good to the church of God. They who yield to his influences become good, they who obey his impulses do good, they who live under his power receive good. Let us then act towards so good a person according to the dictates of gratitude. Let us revere his person, and adore him as God over all, blessed for ever; let us own his power, and our need of him by waiting upon him in all our holy enterprises; let us hourly seek his aid, and never grieve him; and let us speak to his praise whenever occasion occurs. The church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost. He is so good and kind, that it is sad indeed that he should be grieved by slights and negligences.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Do not waste Your Life


I am skimming through a Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet. On-line, because I do not buy that filth. We used to, once a week - they have a good TV-table for a week, but we stopped. It was impossible to have the newspaper on our kitchen table.
A few days ago I posted on the change of vision, on how becoming a Christian changes you from the inside out, and gives you a completely new mindset. I can only confirm it after this episode of tabloid reading today. While my eyesight deteriorates because the age takes its toll, my mindset becomes sharper every day.

This "star" did this, that "starlet" did that, oh, the one you-know-everybody-loves-her got naked in a night club, wow!!!! How-could-she whatever filth is good because it boosts your career....
Another one was found dead in her apartment (never have heard of this one, and no, it is not Anna Nicole, but another one), oh, what a terrible loss, EVERYBODY is crying...

I do feel sorry for those whose relatives died - please do not misunderstand me. But when a tabloid makes this kind of news its main food, I become suspicious. They rub it on you, and you start worrying about things you had no idea existed! Rubbish in, rubbish out. The more sensation, the better. The less substance, the easier you become manipulated.

There was one man who died also. He did it willingly, for those who would believe in Him, repent and obey Him. He took my sin and made me righteous before God the Father. He dwells in me and is sanctifying me, He walks with me and will never leave me.
People wrote about Him. Not in tabloids, but in one very special Book, the ONLY BOOK WORTH READING, really.
Read this Book - if you have not yet done it. The living water of life is in it. For you. God willing.

P.S.
Now about the title: you who visit here often know how much I appreciate John Piper and his ministry. My next reading project is his book that may be found here, and that inspired my today's title.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hooray for the New Values ???


Translation:
The Catholic Church in Portugal made a huge contribution in the NO-abortion campaign for the upcoming legislative change. When the people voted YES in the referendum, it became a burning defeat for the church.
The pro-abortion activists consider this result as an expression of Portugal coming closer to the rest of Europe in the matters of moral values.
The socialist prime minister, José Socrates, is going to let the parliament decide on the new law which shall make abortions legalized up till the tenth week of pregnancy.

Now - what strikes me the most is in the bold text. Do you see this irony? It does not say it explicitly, in case somebody tried to use it in some sort of wicked defense. But, in a way, those European moral values must be better than the old-fashioned church values of Portugal, right? Otherwise, what is the point of writing it this way?
So - the morality of today's Europe, the morality of apprising death culture, is better than the Christian morality of apprising life. In other words - it is good to kill the unborn children, and if you don't to it, you are immoral in European standards.
I think I intend to be very immoral, no matter the cost of it.

European Union. Very fancy organization of countries, united by the idea of free trade, free speech, free movement of people and job. At the same time, the horrendous monster, more and more in the likes of George Orwell's "1984", steering our thoughts and modelling our morality. Both my countries, Poland and Sweden, are members of this organization. Both joined it in hope of the better future, easier trade, richer contacts. Now look what is beginning to transpire out of those hopes. A devilish will of uniformity instead of unity, the democratic rule of majority (whoever said that democracy is the best solution?, that the majority is somewhat wiser because it is the majority?), the oppression of will by the power.
And, really, why not? If this same majority rejects God, what is there to be accountable to? Nothing at all, apart from one's desires and cravings. And if those tell you that an unborn child is going to hinder you in your selfish life - get rid of it, by all means, and call it moral, so that no superstitious Christian may object.
It is New Age, Ladies and Gentlemen, New Morality, New World Order. It is here.

Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God

I found this video while reading OldTruth.com. Extremely important, go there and read it, too.
After you have watched the film here ;).



This is a perfect illustration of how not to be afraid of presenting the Gospel right way.
BTW, the text of the well-known sermon with the same title is here:
Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Great Optician


Something happens when a person becomes a Christian. Everything is becoming different in contrast to the previous life. You see things differently, you hear people talk differently, their attitude towards you is different, each and every old presupposition falls to the ground...
It is like getting a completely new pair of eyes, ones that are precious, ones that show you the world as it is, but at the same time show you God as He is, the latter not normally seen at all without those glasses.

Andrew Fuller writes (and here John Piper talks about Fuller):
Whatever necessity there may be for a change of heart in order [for one to believe], it is neither necessary nor possible that the party should be conscious of it till he has believed. It is necessary that the eyes of a blind man should be opened before he can see; but it is neither necessary nor possible for him to know that his eyes are open till he does see.

Christian perspective. A touchy area, not very popular with *freedom lovers*. Do not ever abandon it, though. This is the only foundation of your life, and the only absolute truth. The only one that lets you see properly.



2Ti 4:1-4
(1) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
(2) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
(3) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
(4) and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Sunday Hymn


Find your joy in the Lord
Take His guidance in your ways
Open your heart for His Love
Soften your mind for His Teaching
Bow your soul for His Grace

He will never leave you, and He will never betray you
His Word will guide you forever into the Light of His Home
Before Him you are righteous and pure
Before Him you are not alone

Find your joy in Jesus
And your salvation in God
Taste the sweetness of surrender
And drink the waters of obedience

See His Power and Greatness in everything He does
Admire His Mercy and Love in everything He undertakes
Tremble before His Justice and Majesty
Put your life trustingly in His Forgiving Glory

Find your joy in prayer
Talk to the Lord constantly
Praise His Holiness and Righteousness
Find your peace with the Lord
Ania Björk

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A week on my iPod

It is easy to make me an addict of gadgets. But at least this one has freed me from my computer, oh, all right, for a while :)
I listen to several podcasts, and I want to share my list with those who care. The list is really an repetition of an earlier post, with a few changes, but I just felt it necessary to share again.

When do I listen to those? In my car, because it takes me one hour to drive to work and another one to come home. And sometimes during the lunch break... And in the evenings...

Oh, and my computer has been performing a miracle - now it is charging the iPod, via the same port it refused to charge it in before... Go figure.
All highly recommended, ordered randomely!

Friday, February 09, 2007

What would you do if...


DNA-testing for fathers. A powerful technology allowing men to make sure that the children they take care of are biologically theirs.
Over 2000 tests were carried over in Sweden, 2 142 tests in 2006, 2 011 in 2005.
The results show that 25% of the men are not the fathers...

Now that is alarming, because it shows a trend in society, and the trend is not good. Considering that this is only the tip of an iceberg, the overall picture does not present the women as angels. Rather, it points to the infidelity and lack of responsibility in their lives, creating much greater problems than any person can think of.

Let us imagine a father who suddenly finds out that the child he has been caring for, loving and providing for, is not his flesh and blood. This in itself being a shock, is only the beginning of a chain of events that would disintegrate his whole world, and the world of this child, as well.
Very often, especially when the child is a baby, the couple split, and the child grows up without a father, often impoverished, because his single mother must now provide for them by herself. But it also happens that a man leaves his family when the child is older, because he is not able to stay with the child's mother after having learned about her infidelity and deceit. Imagine the pain this causes for the innocent child. I cannot even begin to imagine that!
But there are cases when the man stays, accepts the child and gets over the pain and deceit, for the sake of his children and his wife.
None of these solutions is easy. And all of them might be avoided if only people followed the Law of God, telling them to stay faithful and loving their spouse.

Sin has the enormous power of multiplying itself and damaging everything in its proximity. This is a very good illustration of the phenomenon.

But, my question is: what would you faced with such a predicament? Would you leave? Would you stay?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Stories Of Great Hymns

While looking for hymns, I came across this podcast, Stories Of Great Hymns. I think it is worth while listening to it.
Discover how the great hymns came to be written; the trials and triumphs that led the great hymn writers to pen their immortal classics. Narrated by veteran radio actor Rex Brenner, music by Larry Shackley.




And, from Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts:

HYMN 65

The hope of heaven our support under trials on earth.
When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes.
Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurled,
Then I can smile at Satan's rage,
And face a frowning world.
Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall,
May I but safely reach my home,
My God, my heav'n, my all!
There shall I bathe my weary soul
In seas of heav'nly rest,
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A gift


That little hand you take care of, your whole world in miniature
the smile on that little face, warming you up inside
those trusting eyes watching your every step
seeking your approval and love amidst the daily sorrows

Have you told him that you love him?
Have you hugged him this infinite number of warm hugs today?
Have you given him the chocolate cake he was dreaming of?
Have you...

My motherhood is a precious gift to me,
Do you also feel as if you had your heart on your shoulder?
Are you his whole world? Your hand around his?
Do you see yourself in his big blue eyes?
Ania Björk

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound

I have always loved this hymn, without even thinking about its meaning... Now I know better, and love it even more. What a wonderful and edifying hymn...

John Newton

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found.
Was blind but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did the grace appear,
The hour I first believed.

Thru many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
This grace has brought me save thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the vale
A Life of joy and peace

The earth shall soon disolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine

When we've been thru there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we'd first begun.

Amazing Grace:
The Story of John Newton
- further reading about both the author and the hymn...

"“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations, New Britain or “45 on the top” in Sacred Harp. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.

Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean. When John was eleven, he went to sea with his father and made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war, the H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured and publicly flogged and demoted from midshipman to common seaman. "

Read on...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Prophet - from Sunday's Sermon


Ron, our pastor, preached about this verse:
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!"
(Joh 6:14)
In my Study Bible I found the following, very similar line of reasoning to what Ron presented:

The prophet that cometh (ho prophētēs ho erchomenos).
There was a popular expectation about the prophet of Deu_18:15 as being the Messiah (Joh_1:21; Joh_11:27). The phrase is peculiar to John, but the idea is in Acts (Act_3:22; Act_7:37). The people are on the tiptoe of expectation and believe that Jesus is the political Messiah of Pharisaic hope.
(Robertson's Word Pictures)

Here are the verses referenced by Robertson:
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen--
(Deu 18:15)

And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
(Joh 1:21)

She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."
(Joh 11:27)

Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.
(
Act 3:22)

This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.'
(
Act 7:37)
I find it more and more captivating, how the Scriptures explain Scriptures...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

About Marriage

I have received this article as a daily portion of my devotional subscriptions. I consider it so uplifting and so inspirational, that I want to share it with more people. Enjoy!



I Don’t Love My Husband Anymore
By Lysa TerKeurst

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…”
Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)



Devotion:
I was saddened by what my friend was sharing. She was tired of her husband so she was leaving him because she found the man she dreamed of being with. I was shocked by my friend’s decision.

I had been in their wedding and heard the lifetime promises made from their hearts. I had been with them to celebrate their first anniversary. I had been with them just after the births of their first and second child. I had shared their laughter, encouraged them through their tears, and enjoyed doing life with them.

While their relationship had not been perfect, they did love one another. But something had gotten broken in their relationship and neither of them knew how to fix it. It led to a stale quietness that seeped into their home and made each feel lonelier and isolated than they ever knew was possible for a “couple.” He had grown distant. She had grown frustrated. Life was busy, finances were stressful, and they stopped making time for romantic conversations they used to enjoy. They used to be a team and felt they could beat anything life sent their way. Now they just fought against each other. Then she met an attentive, financially secure man who seemed to be the answer to all of her unmet longings.

She traded her life for the thrill of something new, the lure of something she perceived would be so much better.

But just two years later I ran into this friend and was stunned by her confession. With tears in her eyes she admitted that she’d discovered fairy tales don’t exist. Every relationship feels exhilarating at the beginning but then real life happens and marriage is hard work no matter who you are married to. When I asked her to tell me about her new husband she smiled shyly and said, “Well, he’s hairy.”

What?

What did she just say? My mind was spinning. Of all the words, all the descriptions, all the romantic terms I expected her to use, “hairy” was no where on the list. How telling that the man that was once so irresistible that she traded everything for him, had now been reduced to one word…hairy!

I’m convinced that in marriage the grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water and fertilize it.

Dear Lord, please help me see my marriage as a sacred thing. May I always understand that being married was not meant to just make me happy but make my character more holy. Help me remember being married is less about having the right partner and more about being the right partner. Shape me into the wife my husband needs and deserves. Help me to pause before I speak so I don’t react out of anger, frustration, or selfishness. Show me how to respect, love and give to this man in a way that honors You and brings joy to our home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
Marriage Life Coaching Call with Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Write a list of all the things you love and admire about your husband. If you can’t think of any now, list what you liked about him when you married him. Find some time today to share the list with your husband. Spend some time in prayer for your marriage and for your husband.

Consider signing up for a marriage coaching conference call for women with Lysa TerKeurst. Follow the link in the resources section above to learn more.

Reflections:
As a wife, is your goal to help your husband become all that God intends him to be, or all that you intend him to be?.

Have you bought into the cultural idea of marriage being some sort of fairy tale

Sometimes, being a helper is actually a lot of work. How can you better fulfill your God-given role as a helper to your husband?

Power Verses:
Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

Matthew 19:5-6, “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

1 Corinthians 7:13, “If a woman had a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fiery Trials

Dear Friend,

Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Guaranteed tribulation! Not many of us would get excited over a promise like this. But Jesus did promise it; however He linked it along with another promise - one of victory through Him! Knowing that fiery trials are fierce, He let us know that even in the midst of them, we can have His peace. The strengthening benefits of turmoil are revealed even in our environment; His creation needs hardship to become strong. The buffeting from strong winds actually causes tree roots to grow deeper, stabilizing it for future storms. Some types of pine trees cannot reproduce unless their cones are exposed to the intense heat of a forest fire, opening them to release their seeds. Increased flowering occurs after a fire due to the warmth and changes in the soil and the removal of debris around the plant. God shows us spiritual lessons through His physical creation! Going through trials should draw us close to the comfort of God, straighten our priorities and help us focus on what is really important rather than cluttering our lives with bitterness or unforgiveness.

"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45


Perhaps you are going through trying times that feel like a devastating fire. Are you asking God to put those flames out? Because of His mercy, He does not allow us to stagnate, but to journey through transforming situations! Pray for those who are against you or bring harm to you or your family. Be thankful in testing and persecution, which strengthens, as through it, God will bring new life to you!

There are unwelcome moments of life you and I wish we could escape. In fact, that may describe your life today! When these trials come, how do you respond when the hurt is real or when you feel that the walls are closing in? How do you respond when things happen totally outside of your control? LEADING THE WAY's Dr. Michael Youssef offers some sound Biblical direction and some words of encouragement. "The Blessings of Trials: How God Uses Trials in Your Life for Your Good".

The steady, virulent progress of the malignant brain tumor gave real urgency to these questions for David. He wanted to know - he needed to know - if this painful death was really from God's hand. He needed to trust God, but how could he? The short book of Hebrews was most likely originally a series of short sermons written for people tempted to give up their faith in the face of great hardship. Dr. Charles and Sharon Betters of IN HIS GRIP show how to cultivate the kind of faith we need during times of trials. "Is God Sovereign? Can I Trust Him?"

Sometimes we will whine a little about how hard it is to be a Christian. But maybe we need to stop for a moment and consider our experience in comparison to that of Polycarp's, the A.D. 155 pastor of the church in Smyrna. Perhaps then we will understand what persecution really is. Jesus said, "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). If you are living a godly life, then you will be persecuted in some way, shape or form. But persecution can actually help you grow stronger spiritually. Greg Laurie of A NEW BEGINNING reminds us of two very important things pertaining to "The Promise of Persecution."

If you've been a parent for any time at all, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that your child came into the world with an insatiable faculty for evil. Even before birth, your baby's little heart was already programmed for sin and selfishness. GRACE TO YOU's John MacArthur explains more about "Your Child's Greatest Need."

May the Lord richly bless you!
The Oneplace.com Team
http://www.crosswalkmail.com/nrdrxhzu_xesiczae.html
Listen for Life!