Friday, December 25, 2009

Primal - Book Review

As Mark Batterson would say, we have a tendency to over complicate things. Sadly this is often particularly true when it comes to how we live-out our Christian faith. But, Jesus made it simple: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s really that simple, but we tend to make it so complicated.

In Primal, Mark Batterson challenges us to return to that primal faith that started it all, and to remember exactly what Christian faith is supposed to be all about. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

Batterson tells the story of hearing Senator Bill Frist speak several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast. Before serving in the Senate, Frist performed more than 150 heart transplants as a thoracic surgeon. At the Prayer Breakfast he spoke about the moment a heart is grafted into a new body. Apparently, all doctors can do is wait and hope that it will begin to beat. He said no one's really sure why or how it works.

It's a mystery.

And it seems the mystery of the heart doesn't stop there. Batterson writes, "Studies suggest that the heart secretes its own brain-like hormones and has cellular memory. So a heart transplant isn't just physical, it's metaphysical. Heart transplant recipients don't just receive a new organ, they receive cellular memories."

Primal pushes us to become great at living-out the Great Commandment Jesus gave (Mark 12:30) in the four areas of heart (compassion), soul (wonder), mind (curiosity), and strength (power). Batterson, believes, as do I, that when we discover or rediscover living our lives out of those four areas, we are then able to live out the true essence of Christianity.

This would be a great book to start 2010 with.

You can purchase this book at the WaterBrook Multnomah website. Here they will see different options where they can purchase the book online:

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601421319

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

The Moment of Conception

"What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." ~ Matthew 1:20

Is anything as miraculous as the moment of conception? A sperm penetrates an egg and all the genetic data that will determine who that person becomes is encoded within that single cell. A-mazing! The mother's body starts producing hormones before she even knows she is pregnant. The heart starts beating around day 22. In four weeks time, that single cell has grown 10,000 times larger. Around day 42, the first neuron is formed and 120 days later, a baby will have a hundred billion neurons. That is nearly 10,000 synapses per second. But it all begins with that moment of conception.

The Christmas conception was unique. Mary was a virgin. So what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. And all orthodox Christians believe in the miracle of the virgin birth. But I would suggest that it's more than a tenet of theology. It also sets an example. Anything of eternal value in our lives is conceived by the Holy Spirit. And God still works the same way today. When He wants to do something He conceives something inside of us by the Holy Spirit--a passion, a calling, a gifting, a prompting. And when we do what the Holy Spirit conceives we are advancing His kingdom on earth. And just as Christ came into the world at Bethlehem, Jesus incarnates himself through His children when the Holy Spirit is at work through us.

So on Christmas morning, here is my Christmas question: what does God want to conceive within you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The X in XMAS

For those who have are concerned with people who use X in place of Christ when writing Christmas, you might find this article, by R.C. Sproul interesting. Let me add that when I was in seminary I began using X for Christ, JC for Jesus Christ, HS for Holy Spirit, G for God. In a strange way it was comforting and expedient. This allowed me to write quickly, but also when I would throw a piece of paper in the garbage I was never throwing out the complete name of God.

Yes, it may sound strange but some of that comes with my Jewish background and the sanctity of God's name. You see, Jewish people (practicing Jews and others as well) when writing the name God, will write G-D, this way they will never throw the name of God out. It's an interesting premise which stuck with me through seminary and remains with me to this day. I don't even like deleting God's name from a sentence I write on my computer.

Here is the article from R.C. Sproul

The simple answer to your question is that the X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Taken from Now, That's a Good Question!
©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale on the blog of Ligonier Ministries.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review - 40 LOAVES

I am generally not a big devotional reader. However, this is one of the better devotionals I have read. The devotions are short and to the point. It only takes a few minutes to read each one, but the potential impact is great. C.D. Baker arouses your heart, spirit and mind as you consider the impact of the message of Christ.

He asks a lot of tough questions with his "Food for Thought" questions, such as "Why don't I have more faith? Why am I so bored with Jesus? Why don't I feel connected at church? Why don't I know what I want in life?"

If we were honest, we would know that he has touched a nerve with some of is questions which should cause us to take stock of our relationship with Christ.

He asked questions like, "Do I really want to take him by the hand or just take from his hand?" which should cause us to consider what is it we want from our relationship with Jesus.

This would be a great book to read for a 40 day devotion.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Publishing Group.

Regifting Etiquette

I found this on the Internet, so, for all you regifters, here is the Code of Ethics.

If you're a closet regifter, rest assured: You're not alone. In fact, a Code of Regifting Ethics has emerged from the shadowy, persecuted regifting underworld, marking horror stories the signs of amateurs at work. Follow these simple commandments, and you, too, can regift with class, dignity, and little to no fear of karmic retribution...

Rule #1: Thou shalt not regift anything you've already used. This is the single most important rule. Don't try to fudge it. Think of this rule as your excuse to give that gently-worn sweater to a worthy charity, instead of racking your brains trying to think of a friend who won't remember seeing you in it.

Rule #2: Thou shalt carefully examine your regift from every angle. Check for gift notes tucked into the box. Check for inscriptions on the first ten pages of the book. Check for damage. And for the love of sweet pickle juice, check for monograms and personalization.

Rule #3: Thou shalt be certain, beyond a doubt, that the person who originally gave you the gift does not know, and never will know, the person you're regifting it to. File under "duh."

Rule #4: Thou shalt regift with the same care and generosity with which you, er, regular-gift. Wrap the gift nicely, include a thoughtful card, and observe your usual gift-giving discretion. You wouldn't tell a friend how much you paid for a gift you bought, right? You don't need to tell her how much you didn't pay, either. (Total honesty might make you feel better, but it probably won't have the same effect on the recipient.)

Rule #5: Thou shalt only regift things that other people might actually want. On the "do" list: Bottles of wine and champagne are almost universally welcome regifts. Other good regifts: new toys, bestselling books, unused (and unopened) beauty products, edible goodies that not only are fresh but also look fresh, music (anything that wasn't the big hit of last year, that is), and picture frames you've taken the trouble to put great pictures into.

On the "don't" list: Branded stuff (umbrellas with logos on them, the silver pen from the conference you went to that has the conference name on it), small appliances (too obvious), anything that was itself obviously a regift. . . unless you're headed to a White Elephant party.

And then there's "the big maybe:" Anyone who's ever been married has probably regifted at least one wedding present. We ain't sayin' it's right or wrong. But if you regifted a wedding present, you probably know that there's about a 65% chance that the recipient guessed. . . which isn't exactly the desired effect. Which brings us to the final rule of regifting.

Rule #6: Thou shalt remember why you give gifts to begin with. We give gifts because we want people to like them. We give gifts out of the impulse of generosity, and because as a species, we like seeing each others' eyes light up with delight and surprise, one of many characteristics that distinguishes human beings from, say, woodpeckers or garden slugs. If you can't see a regift making somebody you know and love happy, maybe that regift deserves another recipient. Like a charity. Or the recycle bin.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pray for your Pastor

Here is a blog from one of the most direct Pastors I know, Perry Noble. Perry leads about 10,000 folks in Anderson, South Carolina. He wrote this about praying for pastors . . .

Pray For Your Pastor
Perry Noble

"This particular post may seem a little self serving…but so be it…this needs to be said (AND…I don’t mind asking people to pray for me!) :-)

Here are several areas where you can be praying for your pastor…

#1 – His Walk With God – Pray that his relationship with Jesus isn’t one out of obligation…but of OBSESSION for HIM!!! It is VERY tempting for a pastor to read the Bible for sermon prep and NOT to know Jesus. Pray that His relationship with Jesus will be FRESH and that he will be filled with vision and passion like never before.

#2 – His Integrity – It takes YEARS to establish integrity…and it can be destroyed in seconds. Pray for your pastor to keep his eyes on Jesus and OFF of anything that might lead him astray!!!

#3 – His Marriage – Pray that your pastor just doesn’t preach about a healthy marriage…but LIVES it out. I promise you the enemy comes STRONG after his marriage…and his kids!!! Lift up his wife and children by name as well!!!

#4 – His Sanity – He deals with critics, he deals with unrealistic expectations, he deals with accusations, he deals with pressure that is intense. Pray that he will keep his sanity. I recently heard of a survey that said only 10% of the men entering the ministry actually retire…the others either get disqualified OR drop out! That is a 90% failure rate!!! THE STAKES ARE HIGH!!!

#5 – His Health – I was in a meeting of pastors a few years ago…everyone of us were leading large churches…everyone of us were under 35…and over HALF of the men in the room (remember, we were under 35) had been hospitalized in the past two years because of serious medical problems (most likely brought on by stress and anxiety!) Good health is so vital for ministry…and I can promise you that physical, emotional and spiritual health do not just “happen!” Do not assume that just because your pastor is young that he is healthy…lift him up.

Whoever your pastor is…seriously…I would ask that you lift him up. No matter who you are…no matter who your pastor is. I don’t care if you are reading this site and hate me…don’t hate your pastor. Cover him…and pray that Jesus will speak to him and through him in ways that he has never experienced.

Rick Warren once said that he believes pastors are the most underrated changes agents in the world…and I believe that!!! SO…let’s lift him up before God…and pray that Jesus will have HIS way in his life!"


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The Church

As I was writing my thoughts from Revelations 1-3, this is how I ended my thoughts . . .

. . . Moving beyond this, really is the question of what is the church?
  • Is it about satisfying your needs or meeting the needs of others according to what God is calling you to do?
  • But, do you know what God is calling you to do?
  • Is it to complain or to serve?
  • Is it to have your needs met or meet the needs of others?
  • Is it to serve or be served?
  • Is it to be a difference maker or blend in with the crowd?
How do you answer those questions? Where is your commitment to the Church, and I mean THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ, not the local church. Your commitment to the throne of Christ, will ultimately determine your values and convictions within the local church.

Frankly, there are just too many complainers and not enough servants. Sadly, some of the 'so called servants' are complainers in disguise. So, as you move into 2010, what type of faith will you demonstrate to the world and to your Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ?

Will it be that lukeward, putrid faith which Jesus tells us in Revelation 3 is spit out of His mouth? Or will you serve with a renewed zeal, passion and energy?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spending

I saw this one too. I thought it was funny and rather tongue in check from Saturday Night Live about spending money.

Remember, click on the title "spending" to get you to watch the video.



It's a good video for Black Friday shoppers!

Joy

I came across this 45 second snippet from Tony Dungy talking about joy.

I thought is was worth listening to . . .

What Brings True Joy? from Family First on Vimeo.



Remember to view this, click on the title of this blog, Joy.

Blessings and joy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a church . . .

Perry Noble from NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C. wrote this, and I thought he was right on.

So, here are his dreams . . .

I’m Dreaming Of A Church… December 9, 2009

Below is the link to his blog . . .

http://www.perrynoble.com/2009/12/09/im-dreaming-of-a-church/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+perrynoble%2FZvVU+%28Perry+Noble+dot+com%29&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail

Jesus has done more in the past 10 years of ministry here at NewSpring Church than any of us ever thought possible…and I know there’s more.

Ephesians 3:20 keeps running over and over again in my mind…and I keep dreaming of a church (and churches…)

  • That the ministry goes beyond the walls of the building and actually IMPACTS the community in a radical way.
  • Where the broken, hurting and lost are received with open arms…and the religious are challenged to repent of their “perfection.”
  • Where generosity is embraced.
  • Where the staff and volunteers give their best to God in every task that they take on! (I don’t believe the church should look to organization like Disney and Apple for inspiration…I believe they should be looking at the church!!! Yes, they have great thinkers…we have the HOLY SPIRIT of the LIVING GOD! There is no excuse for half hearted, watered down effort in the Kingdom!)
  • Where JESUS is exalted…NOT a denomination or a political party.
  • Where Scripture, not Robert’s Rules of Order, govern the Body.
  • Where people in the church REFUSE to ignore injustice…and EMBRACE that God has called the church to do more about it than simply pray…but rather to DIVE IN and do all we can to help all we can.
  • That refuses to accept that the way things are is the way they have to be.
  • That champions the next generation instead of teaching them they are insignificant until they can get a job and begin to tithe.
  • That excitement and passion surrounds the Sunday services…and also an expectation that God is going to do something huge!
  • That throws the desire to compete with other churches out the window…and does all that they can to help the body.
  • That embraces the fact that Jesus originally called “unschooled, ordinary men” to change the world…and He’s STILL doing the same thing today. (See Acts 4:13)

The church’s best days are yet to come…and I can’t wait to see what Jesus does next. He loves His church way more than we do!!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Anger in Action

Here is what happens in a hockey game when anger gets the best of you.

Click on the title Anger in Action to watch the play.





Excellent Teen NKJV Bible

I found this new NKJV Study Bible for Kids to be a really great looking and useful Bible.  While it is paperback, the colors on the cover ...