Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Pennies from heaven

Posted: December 19, 2010 by Brian Andrews in Devotional, Theology
Tags:

I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some items on a list. We’re trying to pay cash for everything, so I headed to the ATM first to get some money. As you know, ATMs only give you $20 bills, which was fine with me.

When I parked my car at the store and got out, I decided to bring in some coins because I generally like to get as close as possible to giving exact change. Scrounging around the car, I found a few coins. I was just about to head in the store, when I looked down and saw a penny on the ground. I picked it up and then happened to notice two more rather scuffed up pennies under the car. Thinking to myself that I might need these, I shoved them into my pocket and entered the store. My youngest son was with me riding in the cart.

Now, you have to understand that I often have trouble making decisions. That day was no exception. Fruit was on my list, but I didn’t have any idea what type of fruit or how much to get. Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, pears and kiwis passed the test and made it into the basket. I got some sweet potatoes for pies, but first had to make sure I had just the right weight. I picked up and put back a few of them until I was satisfied with my choices. A number of items made it into the shopping cart that weren’t on my list, but I felt like I should get anyway. For example, normally, I don’t buy things on a whim, but when my son asked for shells and cheese I got it for some reason. A little later he saw an apple slicer and reminded me that we needed one so I got it.

I know this may seem like a lot of boring detail–(I mean, how exciting can grocery shopping be?)–but that’s part of what makes the outcome so significant to me.

When I was finally ready to check out, I went through the self-checkout line, scanned and bagged all my stuff, and got the total: $60.73. At that point I remembered the change in my pocket and wondered how close I would be to having exact change. I reached into my pocket and found that I had exactly 73 cents, the three pennies I found on the ground having made all difference. Not only that, but since I had gotten all $20s from the ATM I had exactly what I needed down to the dollar and cent.

Another thing you have to understand is that I’m a math teacher and God often speaks to me through situations involving numbers. (BTW, the odds of the above happening are about 1/2000.) What I sensed God reminding me of through this whole thing is that He is in total control of my life. He is sovereign over all the choices I make. He is interested in even the most minute, unimportant details of my life, like buying kiwis and apple slicers.

Some people don’t like the idea of God being in control of everything, but this is a very comforting truth for someone like me who too often agonizes over “did I make the right decision?” He is with me; I don’t need to fear. Whether big things or mundane things, my Heavenly Father concerns Himself with the things that concern me. If you are His child, He has the same concern for and interest in you. You are not left alone in the tough decisions you face. He is with you and will in everything work it out for your good. He reminded me of that when He gave me His three cents.

Biblia.com is Here!!!

Posted: September 28, 2010 by Jonathan in Biblical Studies, Devotional, Family, Homeschool
Tags:

From the people that make Logos bible software for Mac and PC, the cloud computing version has arrived at Biblia.com. Well, is arriving at least. The feature set is apparently being completed, but if you already own a Logos base package, then a lot of your material is now available on the web. And Logos is promising that in future, people will be able to buy content for any of their platforms and use it on any other platform. This is a great model, and one that is only serving to further establish Logos as the premier electronic bible study tool. I’ll be using the website for most Bible reference links on this site, so go ahead and familiarize yourself with this excellent study aide.

Sometimes I have thoughts and share them before I have a chance to really consider the full ramifications. Thoughts like this one:

“I wonder what it would be like to read the Bible in 90 days?”

I thought that thought, and then shared that thought not only with my wife, but with our home church group too, a couple of whom decided that I had not lost my mind but wanted to join us on this endeavor. And in a fit of one-up-manship, my wife decided that to read the Bible in 90 days is one thing, but to read it chronologically? Well, that would surely elevate us to the level of SuperChristian*, the heady heights of which we could only previously imagine.

I saw Zondervan has a whole kit from which to work if you like the New International Version, but I’m an English Standard Version man. I recommend it to anyone who asks, and having been immersed in it intensely this summer, I stand by my conviction that this is the best single translation you can use. I always like having multiple translations available, but if there was only one open to me, I would want the ESV.

Armed with a chronological outline and a copy of Logos 4, I assembled our reading plan to begin on the first day of June and we have been reading every day until the culmination last Sunday night when we read the entire Revelation of John aloud to each other. (more…)

Books on Death

Posted: September 27, 2010 by joelmartin in Book Reviews, Devotional, From the Heart, Suffering, Theology

Since my Mom died, the subject of death interests me in more than an academic fashion. I have pulled out some books on death, grief and the afterlife that I plan to read or skim in order to solidify in my mind what is going on. One thing that is key to remember in this situation is that my Mom is now experiencing life after death but that it isn’t the goal or the end of the story. The final act is what N.T. Wright calls life after life after death – the resurrection of the dead. That can get lost in all our talk about heaven. Our future isn’t a disembodied state in the clouds. It’s in our body, perfected and raised, in a new heavens and new earth. Mom was buried (as I believe all bodies still are) with her feet facing east. Why? Because Jesus comes from the east and when we are raised, the presumption is that we will face his glorious appearance.

So, the books I am looking at so far are:

1. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

2. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God

3. Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our Death

If I can, I’ll share some things I find interesting out of reading these texts. Hopefully they will help me deal with my Mom’s death. As great as the Christian hope is during the death of a loved one, the inability to communicate with that person over the gulf of death is (I think) one of the cruelest parts about death. I am thankful for the example of Jesus, who wept at the death of Lazarus, and for the fact that the Bible calls death an enemy, although a defeated one. We don’t have to be pie in the sky, happy at the time of death. I’m not in favor of trying to “celebrate” at death. I want a grim funeral with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer liturgy when I die. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Yes, we have hope. Yes, the future will be glorious. But yes, the pain is real and the loneliness in the midst of a world that keeps turning and doesn’t care that you are here today and gone tomorrow is real. It all has to be worked through somehow.

“Who Can Change the Leopard’s Spots?” – Phillip W. Mansfield.

I enjoyed this read. Thought you might too.

What a mighty God we serve…

courtesy of heartlight.org

I liked this thought so much that I wanted to share it.  I hope you enjoy it and are blessed by it as I was.  May we all grow in His grace and knowledge and love, not to remain on milk, but mature with ‘solids’ each day (or week, or month, or year, as long as we’re continually pursuing growth).

THOUGHT:

At one time or another, most of us raised an angry fist to fate and cursed the darkness. Each of these actions is about as equally effective. But to deny there is a God is something else altogether.

To rob heaven of God is to rob ourselves of grace, hope, and future. How foolish indeed to forget that behind a Creation of wonder, order, variety, beauty, power, and pattern is the Creator.

He is far greater than his handiwork and we dare not ignore, deny, or dismiss him.

I know this is a bit choppy, but I made it for my personal use and it might not be reader-friendly. This is a condensed commentary on Matthew 5:4 for the homegroup I am leading right now. We are going through the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”

–          This beatitude connects to the previous one in that “being poor in spirit” acknowledges one’s poverty and need for help. Important to note that the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t advocate “works righteousness”, nor is “law” for Jews only. It begins with our poverty and need of grace.

–          Being “poor in spirit” will manifest itself in mourning.

  • Our faith is a “crying one”:
    • “We need, then, to observe that the Christian life, according to Jesus, is not all joy and laughter. Some Christians seem to imagine that, especially if they are filled with the Spirit, they must wear a perpetual grin on their face and be continuously boisterous and bubbly. How unbiblical can one become? No. In Luke’s version of the Sermon Jesus added to this beatitude a solemn woe: ‘Woe to you that laugh now.’1 The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them.”[1]

–          “I fear that we evangelical Christians, by making much of grace, sometimes thereby make light of sin. There is not enough sorrow for sin among us. We should experience more ‘godly grief’ of Christian penitence, like that sensitive and Christ-like eighteenth-century missionary to the American Indians David Brainerd, who wrote in his journal on 18 October 1740: ‘In my morning devotions my soul was exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and vileness.’ Tears like this are the holy water which God is said to store in his bottle. Such mourners, who bewail their own sinfulness, will be comforted by the only comfort which can relieve their distress, namely the free forgiveness of God” (Stott, John).

What is Godly grief? (more…)