December 31, 2009

Good News for the New Year

1 John 1:1-10

The Word that gives life
was from the beginning,
and this is the one
our message is about.
Our ears have heard,
our own eyes have seen,
and our hands touched
this Word.

The one who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us. We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us. And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing to tell you these things, because this makes us truly happy.

Jesus told us that God is light and doesn’t have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you.

If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn’t in our hearts. But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his message isn’t in our hearts.


December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Fullers


What is a Friend?

Earlier this year I posted a story about how God had restored a very special friendship to me. I received this poem in the mail from my dear friend. It seems that at Christmastime, I am most thankful for my friends, and I have been blessed with many!!  

What is a friend? I will tell you.
It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself.
Your soul can be naked with him.
He seems to ask of you to put on nothing,
Only to be what you are.

He does not want you to be better or worse.

When you are with him,
You feel as a prisoner feels
Who has been declared innocent.
You can say what you think,
So long as it is genuinely you.

He understands those contradictions in your nature
That lead others to misjudge you.

With him you breathe freely.
You can avow your little vanities,
And envies,
And hates,
And vicious sparks,
Your meanness
And absurdities
And, in opening them up to him,
They are lost, dissolved in the white ocean of his loyalty.

He understands.
You do not need to be careful.
You can abuse him,
Neglect him,
Tolerate him.

Best of all, you can keep still with him.
It makes no matter, he likes you.
He is like fire that purges to the bone.

He understands, he understands!

You can weep with him,
Sing with him,
Laugh with him,
Pray with him.

Through it all—and underneath
He sees, he knows, and he loves you.

A friend? What is a friend?

Just one, I repeat,
With whom you dare to be yourself.


Merry Christmas - In the First Light of a New Day


December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas - From Go Fish

Two from one of my favorite bands

Christmas With a Capital “C”

Mary, Did You Know?


December 23, 2009

Celtic Merry Christmas

Pay attention to the words of the second verse - outstanding statement of accurate biblical theology. Fantastic!


Peace on earth; good-will to men

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry W. Longfellow


heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”


December 22, 2009

December 21, 2009

Happy Global Warming!!

Another 12 Days of Christmas

I tried to post this song last Christmas, but it was removed from YouTube shortly after I posted it. Hopefully this time it will stay up long enough for everyone to enjoy it. These guys are great!


December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Silent Monks

Keep watching this video through the opening Gregorian chant portion. At about 1:49 into the video it goes into Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”. You’ll love it!


December 19, 2009

And the snow came down!

It’s now almost 10:00 at night. The snow has been falling for more than 24 hours and another 9 hours is forecast. We now have in excess of two feet of snow on the ground with drifts up to four feet. It is magnificently beautiful. Our God is so creative and such a lover of beauty.

Job 37:4-13
God’s majestic voice thunders his commands,
creating miracles too marvelous for us to understand.

Snow and heavy rainstorms make us stop and think about God’s power, and they force animals to seek shelter.

The windstorms of winter strike, and the breath of God freezes streams and rivers.

Rain clouds filled with lightning appear at God’s command, traveling across the sky to release their cargo—sometimes as punishment for sin, sometimes as kindness.

Our church at 3:00 pm today
A tree in our side yard at about 3:00 pm
Our hurricane lamp
Our neighbor across the street (notice the deer tracks through our front yard)


We woke to a mantle of white

The snow started falling lightly at around 8:30 last night. The forecast called for 10 to 16 inches of snow by this afternoon with continued accumulation beyond that into tomorrow morning. By 10:00 pm the snow was covering all the grass and the road.

This morning (about 6:00 am), we woke to this. And it’s coming down with fervor right now—about five hours later. We have at least 3 more inches of accumulation since I took these pictures early this morning.

View from the left side of our front porch

View from the right side of our front porch


December 18, 2009

Commonwealth, but not for everyone


am a proud Virginian. I love the history of this state. I love the scenery. I love the rich heritage. But while Virginia is first in my heart in many ways, THIS first is a terrible thing. Virginia is the first state I have heard of that has laws on the books allowing for active infanticide!

On December 11th, in Rustburg, Virginia, police responded to a call that a woman was in labor. According to this news story from the Lynchburg News & Advance:

They said the baby was under bedding and had been suffocated by her mother. Investigators said because the mother and baby were still connected by the umbilical cord and placenta, state law does not consider the baby to be a separate life. Therefore, the mother cannot be charged.

When I was in college, almost 30 years ago, I read a book titled A Reasonable Proposition. This book was a fictional book about what a person might propose after becoming comfortable with decriminalized abortion. It was a theory about where the so-called “slippery slide” might eventually take us. It included decriminalized infanticide. At the time, I thought the author was really going a good bit over the top in his theorizing. Apparently not.

The News & Advance article goes on to say:

Investigators said the baby’s father was upset when he showed up at the home after deputies.

“He was very upset. I think the grandparents were upset. I believe everyone was upset, except for the person who should have been upset, the mother,” said Emerson.

This is a shameful day for the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Merry Christmas - from a Reformed perspective

HT: Sherry Harlan DeFrank


December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas - Christmas Wrap

These two songs sound very dated, but I loved them when they were first released. I’ve never liked Rap music, but DC Talk was the one group that I thought put out some pretty good music in that genre.

Merry Christmas - From DC Talk


December 16, 2009

Front Royal cotton

My wife took this gorgeous picture of spent cotton while we were exploring Skyline Drive a few weeks ago. Our son was fascinated by the cotton plants, some of which still held their silky substance inside partially opened pods. He even found some unopened pods and opened them to see what the insides looked like. He picked a few to take to school to share with his classmates.

We’re often struck with pride in our son’s ability to notice beauty in places that other folks may overlook. God’s intricate creation is every bit as wonderful as his expansive creation.

Not blind faith – reasonable faith

I have recently had the opportunity to discuss the existence (or non-existence) of God with people who are thinkers. I call them “thinkers” as against those who seem to be moved more by emotion than by rational thought. In today’s postmodern society there is no lack of those who live life riding the waves of their emotions. But there are precious few who put their brains in gear and approach a topic from a rational, reasoning perspective. I truly appreciate those who do this—even when their rationale brings them to a position that does not recognize the existence of God.

So when I found this excerpt below from R.C. Sproul’s Now That’s a Good Question, I thought I should share it here for those of you who have followed one of those recent conversations.

We’re living in a day during which reason itself is suspect among Christians, and somehow it is more admirable simply to affirm our faith and ask people to take what we tell them strictly on blind faith. Yet the Bible tells us, “Come now, let us reason together”s (Isa. 1:18), and the Scriptures enjoin us to be prepared to give a reason for the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15).

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

I remember that in grade school sometimes we could have open-book tests in math class. The advantage of it was that we could flip to the back of the book, where they had the answers to the problems. If we didn’t know how to get the right answer, at least we knew what the right answer was. There’s sort of a “back of the book” way that we can approach our friends on the existence of God.

The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God has revealed himself to every human being and that every person knows that there is a God. The judgment of God is not that people fail to come to a knowledge of God, but rather that they refuse to acknowledge what they know to be true. If that’s true, then we come into the discussion armed with the information—means by which the person already knows that there is a God, although he or she is not yet acknowledging that. Now, what can we do? Can we just say, “You’re a dirty liar. Why don’t you tell the truth and tell us that you really know there is a God?” That’s not the approach I suggest. Sometimes this knowledge of God is so repressed or stifled that people have only a vague comprehension about the character or existence of God. And many of the questions they ask are honest questions.

It’s important that we respect people’s questions. The late Francis Schaeffer had a ministry at L’Abri in Switzerland, where he specialized in outreach to intellectuals who were professed atheists. He felt that it was his obligation to give honest answers to honest questions. When we discuss questions like the existence of God, we need to be prepared to explain why we are persuaded that God exists.

1 Peter 3:15,16

In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

I don’t have time right now to go over the cosmological argument for the existence of God, but I think it’s valid. Briefly, if something exists now, something has always existed from all eternity or there would be nothing. Somehow, somewhere, someone or something must have the power of being within himself, and that one who has the power of being within himself we call God. That’s how I would start the discussion: “How has this world come into being? How has this cup come into being? How has anything come into being?” and then focus attention there.

R.C. Sproul, Now That’s a Good Question, Question 7.12, 1996 Tyndale House Publishers


December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas - Voices of Liberty


Have yourself a contextual Christmas!

1 John 1:1–5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


hen we think of the Christmas story, we tend to think of the narratives written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Those are the classic stories of Christ’s birth—the ones we read each year to the kids in our Sunday school classes and to our families on Christmas Day. But the apostle John wrote of Christ’s birth as well. And while John’s gospel has the reputation of being a bit more “warm and fuzzy” because it shows God’s love for mankind so clearly, John’s telling of Christ’s birth doesn’t contain the warm fuzzies that the other gospel narratives contain. We don’t hear about the shepherds, the star, the inn with no room, the manger, the wise men, or the journey for the census. John’s narrative is chock-full of theology and gets to the heart of why Jesus came to the earth.

But the thing that jumped out at me when our pastor preached an Advent sermon from John 1:1–13 this past Sunday was how quickly we can get our theology off-track by pulling things out of context.

It is obvious right from the start that John wants to address some theology in his telling of Christ’s birth. He begins his story not in Judea or Bethlehem, but before the creation of the world. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In so doing, he addresses the fact that Jesus Christ is eternally existent with the Father. Then he goes on to show that Jesus was the actual Creator of all things: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:9–11

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

The narrative goes on and talks about John the Baptist, whose job it was to declare the coming of the Christ. And then John’s narrative comes to the part that makes us view John’s gospel as the warm fuzzy—the comfortable gospel. This is the reason that Campus Crusade for Christ and so many others hand out small books containing only the Gospel of John. John presents the gospel message to everyone, just as we are all commanded to do: He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. These words from John 1:11-12 are so familiar that most Christians can quote them from a very early age. But so many young people grow up with a skewed understanding of the theology John is proclaiming here. They sense the wonderful offer (and it is truly wonderful) being offered to all people: “believe in Jesus and you will be saved.” And this is the good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, our failure to teach our children the remainder of the sentence (found in verse 13) has caused a tremendous amount of theological problems. Those problems have contributed to the high pressure tactics common at revival meetings and door-to-door evangelism. They have also contributed to many people’s belief that they are saved when in fact they are not. Many Christians tell folks that if they’ll just “pray the prayer” or “walk down the aisle to make a profession of faith” they are saved. They further the problem by telling those folks, “once saved, always saved.” In essence, they tell these folks who walked the aisle or prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” that they are now in—they don’t have to worry about it any more. That nothing they could do now could separate them from the Father’s love. And while their intentions are honorable, they do these folks a tremendous disservice.

John 1:12–13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Yes, God’s love is extravagant and free. Yes, He saves believers permanently and “no man can pluck them from [His] hand.” But John 1:13 carries the concept forward a bit and puts a deeper theological twist to the gospel message. John 1:13 explains exactly who will receive Jesus—exactly who will believe in His name and be given the right to become the children of God.

John 1:13 says: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Imagine a discussion of unconditional election and effectual (irresistible) grace right here in the story of Christ’s birth. The gospel message is to be proclaimed to all, but those who will respond will do so not because of their ethnic or religious heritage (not of blood), and not because of the faith of their forefathers (the will of the flesh), and not because of the their own contribution of faith (the will of man), but they will respond because of the will of God. The very God who created the universe and all that is in it came to earth to provide the sacrifice for all those who He himself wills to believe.

This is the birth of the total Sovereign over all. What a wonderful season. What wonderful theological concepts. To God alone be the glory! Soli Deo gloria!


December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas from Dixie

I love the south. It's a hard thing to explain to someone who doesn't feel it deep down inside themselves. But those of us who are truly southerners understand.

Merry Christmas, from Dixie


December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas - Carol of the Bells

I’d like to introduce you to “Celtic Women.” I had never heard of this group before, but while searching for some good Christmas videos to share with you I came across a few from this group. And they are all very impressive. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


December 09, 2009

A joyful noise

Psalm 95:1–2 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 98:4,6 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!


The right to keep and bear arms

I had to take the picture of this great bumper sticker when I saw it. The name of the gun shop is Stonewall Arms, named after General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and the town the store is located in is appropriately named “Winchester, Virginia.”



It’s not often that you read a news article with the headline: “Jesus Christ dumped from jury pool for disruption,” but that is the headline of a story that includes the following excerpts:

Efforts to reach Christ for comment were unsuccessful.


But Turner said unlike some Jefferson County residents, Christ didn’t try to get out of jury duty and was “perfectly happy to serve.”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons folks have trouble taking Christians seriously.


December 08, 2009

Merry Christmas from John Mellenkamp

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus


December 07, 2009

Merry Christmas - PDQ Bach style

I was introduced to the delightful PDQ Bach when I was in high school and have loved his music ever since. Here are a few of his Christmas carols for your dining and dancing pleasure. Let’s kick off the Christmas season in fine baroque style:

O Little Town of Hackensack

Throw the Yule Log On, Uncle John

With or without the comma

Good King Kong

And one bonus track for your further enjoyment. Dim the lights, pour some wine, cuddle up with the one you love and let the romance envelope you as you immerse yourself in this phenomenal fare (Renaissance fair?) ... hmmmm.

My Bonnie Lass, She Smelleth


A humble servant of servants


eing the son of a pastor, I grew up having a particular focus on folks in positions of leadership in the local church. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. Blessed, as I was, with a father who is an outstanding pastor, I didn’t see much of the bad and none of the ugly until well after I had moved out on my own—and I have seen more and more of it in recent years.

The primary ugly feature that I have seen in elders and pastors for the past decade or so has been egotism and elitism. This had become so prevalent in my experience that I had begun to despair of the possibility that there were any humble ministers of God remaining. Over the past few years I have observed that the increase in this elitist attitude among pastors has grown widespread and this has become a great burden to me.

I praise God that the pastor of our current church is a humble man with a heart for God and the people under his ministry. It is a huge relief to see this characteristic in a pastor again. And it was brought to mind by a very interesting post at the IX Marks blog titled “Can Someone Who Is 29 Years Old Be a Senior Pastor?” A response to “On the Principle of the Presiding Elder,” this post shows the humility that is a biblical requirement of those who would lead God’s people:

In our church, we practice a "first among equals" approach. This is just a natural development:

  1. I was the first elder here and served by myself for some time.
  2. I do 90% of the Sunday morning preaching. I used to do all the Sunday night preaching as well. A certain amount of authority accrues with that. This is also true with the other elders in our church. While we're all "equal", some elders will have more authority in the congregation than others by virtue of their teaching and care for the congregation.
  3. This is my job and my life. I spend all day every day thinking about this stuff (except when I'm thinking about this or this). The other non-staff elders are committed, but they have day jobs to attend to as well.

I do not, however, take the title "Senior Pastor". The other elder on the church's payroll and I just go by "pastor" and the other elders (not on the church's payroll) for the most part go by "elder" rather than "pastor". We do this for a few reasons:

  1. This is how normal English speaking church-goers use those words. When we say "pastor", we usually mean "elder on staff" or something like that. I realize there are exceptions and it's not a Biblical distinction, but I think Reformed people are weird enough. Let's try and be normal whenever we can.
  2. I don't take the title "Senior Pastor" (or even the honorific "Reverend") because I have authority issues, so I am constitutionally allergic to inflated titles. Plus, when I started the church I was 29; nothing seemed very "senior" about me.
  3. Also, Jesus seems to think it's a dumb idea [see verse below].

Matthew 23:5-12

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

A few precautions:

  1. Because elders are godly men, some may naturally be deferential towards authority. So a pastor in the "first among equals" position will need to work hard to draw the other elders out and get them involved in the decision making process. So in our elders meetings, I try to wait until every other elder has spoken before I state my opinion. That way they say what they really think rather than adjusting their thoughts to come in line with my opinion.
  2. Our hearts are prone to self-worship. We all secretly believe that we know what we're doing and don't need much help. We need to cultivate humility and actually listen to what our fellow elders are saying. This helps them to develop as leaders and helps to avoid a monarchy. Plus, it's great to have a group of men to share the blame the burden of leadership genuinely.

Praise God for humble church leaders. They’re quite rare, and just like a rare coin or a rare gem they are quite valuable.


December 06, 2009

I love Front Royal - Christmas edition


hen God moved us from Lynchburg this past August, we were disappointed to be leaving Lynchburg and we were a bit scared about what to expect. But we knew that God is in control of all our circumstances and that he loves to show his love for us in amazing ways.

The view from our bedroom window yesterday morning

When God opened a house for us in Front Royal, Virginia, we had no idea what a wonderful town Front Royal is. But we did recognize immediately that God had given us the house of our dreams—a 1940 farmhouse with the original large windows and hardwood floors, but with updated appliances and heating and air conditioning.

Our dining room during breakfast (snow out the back porch)

But as we’ve gotten to know the town and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley area better, we’ve come to realize that the entire package is an amazing gift of love from God. The entrance to Skyline Drive is across the street from our son’s high school, giving us access to one of the most beautiful drives in the United States whenever we feel the desire to enjoy its sights. The Shenandoah River is less than a mile from our house and may be accessed without even leaving our neighborhood. And to make it even better, just before the river is one of the most scenic railroad junctions around. Our son loves it.

View of the snow from the kitchen window

My wife has greatly enjoyed decorating our farmhouse for each season and couldn’t wait for December so she could begin decorating for Christmas. We already have a Christmas tree on our front wrap-around porch and another one in our dining room. We will be purchasing a tree for the living room sometime in the next week or so. The stairs are decorated with a real pine needle garland and colored beads. There are wreaths and ornaments hanging from many of the doors and windows. The Christmas candles are out on the coffee tables and side tables. Our nativity scene is set up in the entry foyer, a musical porcelain face of Saint Nicholas is hanging in the dining room, and Christmas stockings are hung on the fireplace mantle and at the top of the stairs. It is beautiful and we were getting into the Christmas spirit very nicely.

And then God reminded us of his great blessings by unleashing six inches of fresh, soft snow.

We saw the forecast for snow early in the morning and soft flakes of snow began falling right on time at about 7:00 in the morning. The light snow turned to heavy falling snow (light and feathery flakes, but lots and lots of them) by about 10:00. And it kept snowing heavily until about 5:30 in the evening. By that time there was a deep covering of snow everywhere and Front Royal had turned into a winter wonderland that defies description. Truth be told, these pictures really don’t do it justice either. The scene was magnificent—all day long.

Kim is not typically a snow lover, but we all decided to head to the center of town where the Christmas tree is displayed in the town’s gazebo to see how it looked with snow falling. And we were not disappointed. The yearly Christkindlmarkt was underway, so many townsfolk were there enjoying the gorgeous snowstorm. Quite a few children and their parents were rolling snowballs to make snow men in the town square around the Christmas tree. Christmas carols boomed from the public address system around the town square. People walking around the town stopped to greet one another and couldn’t hide their enthusiastic joy in the falling snow.

We, of course, had our cameras in hand and took many pictures. But at one point I was overcome with emotion and had to wipe the tears from my eyes. I stopped for a moment and thanked God for loving us so very much and for giving us such a beautiful world—and, personally, such a beautiful town to live in.

I hope you don’t mind my very personal post. I really wanted to share some of the photos with you. But even more, I want to shout God’s praises from the rooftops. In spite of our sinfulness. In spite of our lack of faith and trust. God blesses man daily with the most incredible artistry imaginable.

Thank you, God, you are awesome!

Kim walking next to the Front Royal caboose
David the Christmas engineer


December 05, 2009

Dixieland snow

It snowed today! And Front Royal turned into a winter wonderland.

Pictures will be forthcoming, but for now I will simply replace the header, taken from almost the same vantage point as the previous header photo—just one week later and quite a bit earlier in the day.

Last Saturday evening

This morning

Front Royal is so beautiful!


Merry Christmas - from Washington, DC


December 04, 2009

Sweet Comfort


n 1980 I was attending Baptist Bible College. As a music major, I tended to hang out in the music building most of the time—perhaps a bit too much. I managed to find a way into a locked archive room where I found some amazing treasures. There was sheet music, instruments, old 78-rpm glass records—a wealth of interesting items. And there were records of contemporary Christian rock and jazz bands. This was music we were not allowed to listen to at the school. And I took full advantage of my find.

Among the wealth of music I found a record from the Sweet Comfort Band, a Christian jazz-fusion group that just knocked my socks off. They were phenomenal musicians and they had a great message in their songs. I wished so much that I could share this music with my friends at the time, but since this style of music was outlawed at the college and because I had found it by breaking into a locked archive closet, I thought it best to keep it to myself.

Today I ran across a video of one of the songs from that album. You may recognize the lead singer as Bryan Duncan, who is still producing outstanding Christian music today.

Sweet Comfort – Get Ready

Years later, Sweet Comfort’s lead singer, Bryan Duncan, is still producing quality music with a fantastic message. This performance from 2007 encourages those who have not yet trusted in Christ to make that move NOW! And his message has not changed at all from what he was saying in People Get Ready.

Bryan Duncan - Step By Step

This last one is an appeal to those who didn’t know that they needed to get ready and they didn’t know that they needed to keep moving forward in the Lord step-by-step. This is the appeal given to those folks from Jesus:

I Loved You With My Life

Thirty years later, I still love this group. And I pray that God is using their message to reveal himself to those who need to find him. And I pray that he is pulling them into his family through Bryan’s music.


December 03, 2009

Merry Christmas - Pie Jesu


his Christmas video is very special.

As I looked for videos to post this Christmas, I settled on the piece “Pie Jesu.” And as I began looking for a good video I came across such notables as Charlotte Church and Placido Domingo. And then I remembered. The best version of this I’ve ever seen—perhaps from a slightly biased perspective—but nevertheless, a simply phenomenal performance.

Here’s a young lady named Brooke Fuller wishing you all a Merry Christmas.


Why Does God Allow Evil, Part 2

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

 1 Truly God is good to Israel,
      to those whose hearts are pure.
 2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
      My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
 3 For I envied the proud
      when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
 4 They seem to live such painless lives;
      their bodies are so healthy and strong.
 5 They don’t have troubles like other people;
      they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
      and clothe themselves with cruelty.
 7 These fat cats have everything
      their hearts could ever wish for!
 8 They scoff and speak only evil;
      in their pride they seek to crush others.
 9 They boast against the very heavens,
      and their words strut throughout the earth.
 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
      drinking in all their words.
 11 “What does God know?” they ask.
      “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
 12 Look at these wicked people—
      enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

 13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
      Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
      every morning brings me pain.

 15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
      I would have been a traitor to your people.
 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
      But what a difficult task it is!
 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
      and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
      and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
 19 In an instant they are destroyed,
      completely swept away by terrors.
 20 When you arise, O Lord,
      you will laugh at their silly ideas
      as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

 21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
      and I was all torn up inside.
 22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
      I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
 23 Yet I still belong to you;
      you hold my right hand.
 24 You guide me with your counsel,
      leading me to a glorious destiny.
 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
      I desire you more than anything on earth.
 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
      but God remains the strength of my heart;
      he is mine forever.

 27 Those who desert him will perish,
      for you destroy those who abandon you.
 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
      I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
      and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

A Facebook post by a young friend made me turn to this passage again this morning. I believe it is my favorite Psalm. Rich posted something a short while ago, Why Does God Allow Evil in the World? I think this psalm answers that question—God is being merciful just now. He is storing up, saving His wrath for the day of destruction when the wicked will feel the full penalty of their disobedience. Meanwhile, He draws men to Him, and by saving the ungodly, God shows His incredible mercy toward sinful men.

Paul reminded Timothy of this truth when he wrote, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).

A better question would be this, What IF God did take care of evil in the world? Suppose today, this next moment, God decided enough was enough, and today He was going to make it right—no more evil would exist on this planet. What would this world look like? How many of us would remain standing in our own righteousness? Instead, Peter tells us, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Yes, God is demonstrating His patience toward us by withholding His wrath for a time. The question is, will we respond to His mercy, His free gift of salvation, or will we stubbornly store up wrath for the day of destruction?


December 01, 2009

Did you notice? It’s December!

Merry Christmas


Holier than thou? I think not...

1 Corinthians 1:27-31

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."


man lies on the ground, no pulse, no heartbeat. Medical personnel arrive, administer drugs, CPR, and a defibrilator. His heart rhythm starts once again. Was he dead? Did he choose to come back to life?

It’s the same with men, who are dead in sin. We need God to reach down to us, to “quicken” us, or give us life. Then when He offers us the free gift of salvation, who could ever reject it? But dead men make no choices.

God chose us, and gave us eternal life. “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus” He awakened us from the dead—freed us from the power that sin was exercising over us. Any righteousness we have has been credited to us. Why? So that not one of us will ever be able to say we earned or deserved the grace that He has bestowed on us. We are not able to keep ourselves from falling away, either, only He can do that—and he promised us that He would in John chapter 6. So when we’re tempted to think we’ve got a corner on righteousness, let’s take a look back at what we WERE and realize that what we ARE and what we WILL BE are a result of the work of God’s grace in and through us “so that no one may boast before Him.” Instead, let’s give credit where credit is due—put your boast IN THE LORD!