Monthly Archives: December, 2011

My Year in Review

Here’s a list of the possible top ten events from the past twelve months.

10. God’s kindness regarding my health (I did not miss a day of work)!

9.  A great vacation (apart from the tubing experience)!

8.  The Packers winning the Super Bowl!

7.  The conclusion of  the 2010-2011 school year, and an awesome Fall 2012 semester at RCA! 

6.  Our church!

5.  Friends–old and new (and Uncle Scott’s visit)!

4.  Four relatively happy and healthy children.

3.  A beautiful, faithful, godly, productive wife!

2.  A marriage which could not be better…became better!

1.  The blessings of God–His faithfulness, His grace, His presence!

Thanks for reading!  God has been good!  If you are one of my regulars, you’ve heard me say this before:  “God has not treated me as my sins deserve!”  I’m sure I missed something important on my list.  A year is a long time that flies by. 

Now–what are the top ten events from your year?  I’d love to know!

Have a great celebration tonight!  We “do it up” at our house, thanks to a tradition begun by my parents!  Today is all preparation for our party this evening!  If you hear a loud “Happy New Year!” when you are attempting to sleep, it will be my kids!

New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve been spending some time this week with an old friend.  Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) has been a great source of encouragement to me over the years.  I often turn to his famous Resolutions at this time of year.  Jodi and I read them yesterday, pausing several times to comment on Edwards’ passion to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.  As I awoke this morning, I found myself thinking about a sermon he preached on Ephesians 5:16.  His sermon was aptly entitled The Preciousness of Time.  Here’s the verse:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (ESV).

I believe you will find the following comment very appropriate at the conclusion of another December:

“How much may be done in a year! How much good is there opportunity to do in such a space of time! How much service may persons do for God, and how much for their own souls, if to their utmost they redeem their time.”

In other words, God is on the verge of giving to the majority of us twelve new months in which we can glorify Him by blessing others and seeking His face!  Some of us will not live through the coming year.  Most of us, however, will find ourselves at the end of 2012 asking questions such as:  Did I make a difference?  Did I truly seek Christ with passion?  Edwards’ point in his exhortation is that believers ought to make the most of the precious gift of time.  As 2011 ends, Edwards asks:  “And if God, who has given you your time, should now call you to account, what account could you give to Him?”  Now I ask myself:  How do I plan to use my time in 2012 to honor God by blessing others?  How do I plan to seek His face with even more energy than I did this year?  I challenge you to ask yourself those questions as well!

Allow me to conclude with Resolutions #4-7:

4.  Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5.  Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6.  Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7.  Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Have a great 2012 of glorifying God by blessing others–the natural result of seeking His face!

Jesus Witness Hybrid

BS15 (Chattanooga State Jesus and the Gospels)–Here’s the power point presentation I promised.  It might take a minute to load.  Once it has loaded, click on the hour glass icon in the bottom right of the window in order to view it full screen.  Be sure to submit assignments to aspiretim@yahoo.com

Jesus Witness Hybrid

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

90 minutes.

90 minutes of TJ singing three Latin words–over and over and over and over….  Did I mention that I was attempting to sleep during the first sixty minutes of the broken record?  Yet–I simply could not bring myself to ask him to stop.  I could not quench his joy.  And–he sings good.  And–I love the meaning of the words:  Glory to  God in the highest!  God is all-glorious and God deserves all the glory! 

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people.  I am thankful for the many aspects which make this holiday unique:  carols, family and friends gathering, foods, gifts, great movies, lights, cute myths, trees, etc.  However, these are simply the outer layers of wrapping paper.  That which is worth celebrating is only that which is gloria in excelsis Deo!  In other words, a proper celebration today is one focused upon the person and works of Jesus Christ.  Christmas was originally meant to be a remembrance of His birthday!  I hope you have been able to do just that today!

I’ve got some happy children today.  Celena is coloring in a big book she received from her grandparents.  TJ is playing with some cool new legos.  Dayton is playing with a Wii game that was in my stocking.  Cascade passed out on the recliner.  Daddy and Mommy are fighting infections (Jodi is having much more success than I).  Everyone is looking forward the Packers-Bears game later tonight (that might be an exaggeration).  It’s been a great Christmas–even with an infection!  God has been very gracious.  He is all-glorious and He still deserves all the glory!

Now TJ is singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”!

Merry Christmas 2011

If you have just a moment, watch this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXgH8ZIz9jQ&feature=related

And–here’s my three youngest singin’ for your holiday entertainment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qopvp5C3DM&context=C3d7f549ADOEgsToPDskJzDpHsI3vSfcXTHj18FMkg

Have a wonderful holiday–from our family of misfits to yours!

Advent and me: “My God is so BIG…”

How does that song continue?  “My God is so big; so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”  Almost every child raised in a Christian home knows the tune and the words.  I was reminded this morning of how biblical those words truly are as I read Isaiah 40-49.  If God is attempting to do anything in this portion of Scripture, it is to remind us that He is absolutely sovereign.  However, His presentation of Himself is not simply limited to His absolute right to reign. It also includes His concern for His glory and His care for His people. 

Allow me to prove my point by including several verses below.  I trust you will find yourself encouraged as well. 

“All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” (Is. 40:17,18).

“‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand'” (Is. 41:10).

“‘I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images'” (Is. 42:8).

“‘I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me. It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘And I am God. Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?'” (Is. 43:11-13).

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me…Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none'” (Is. 44:6, 8).

“‘…I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these'” (Is. 45:6, 7).

“‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all my good pleasure'” (Is. 46:10).

“Our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, The Holy One of Israel” (Is. 47:4).

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who  leads you in the way you should go'” (Is. 48:17).

“Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted” (Is. 49:13).

“My God is so BIG…”  He is indeed strong and mighty!  Truly, there is nothing my God cannot do!  We not only see these realities in the judgement and restoration of Israel (the context of the book of Isaiah).  We also see God’s Word applied in the birth narrative of Christ. Do you suppose Mary cherished these truths as she sensed her body preparing to begin its sustained contractions?  Did God’s sovereignty encourage her?  Did the Lord’s presence make any difference to her?  You know so!  Mary had great theology.  Do you?  Is your concept of God based upon the Scriptures?  If so, you, too, have a BIG GOD, and knowing Him makes a massive difference in your life!

Advent and me: Blood Pressure and Jesus

I saw my primary care physician this morning.  We were both pleased to find that my blood pressure was perfectly normal.  That probably was not the case for the prophet Isaiah when he penned the following words:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6; ESV).

I trust you have heard the explanation of this passage.  Isaiah is foretelling the coming of the Messiah.  Earlier, he actually predicted the miraculous birth of Christ (7:14).  Can you imagine his excitement?!  Surely his heart raced as the Holy Spirit moved him to write these amazing words!

As I waited in the doctor’s office today, I reread E.J. Young’s commentary on this passage of Scripture (Isaiah 9).  I’ll close by sharing some gems for your meditation on the incarnation:

“Not merely is the Messiah wonderful but He is Himself a Wonder, through and through” (p.334).

Commenting on the term [translated in the English] “Mighty God”“Gibbor [‘mighty’] simply means hero…by the phrase ‘el gibbor we are brought face to face with Messiah’s deity” (p.337). 

“True peace comes to us because a Child was born. That Child, and He alone, is the Prince of Peace.  Would we have peace, it is to Him that we must go” (p.340). 

“God’s partiality to His people and His jealous disposition to vindicate His honor will accomplish the establishment of the kingdom over which the Child will reign” (p.345).

Closing exhortation:  If you have some time this week, meditate further on these amazing titles of Christ!  Is what ways is Jesus’ a counselor?  Is He truly a “hero” for you?  How does Jesus function as a “father” to His people?  Have you experienced peace because of the Prince of Peace? 

Is it possible to remain calm when considering that historical reality of the coming of God in human form?!  I feel my blood pressure rising!

Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. I, Chapters 1-18, Eerdmans, 1965.

Falling down while going up

Dayton (5) fell on the stairs at school this morning.  He was going up the stairs!  Eventually his brain and his feet will consistently work as a team to accomplish tasks that you and I take for granted.  After helping him deal with his physical and emotional trauma, the line running through my mind was: “falling down while going up.”  It immediately reminded me of recent blog entries and the passage previously quoted in the book of Philippians.  It is worth quoting again:

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:5-11; NASB).

Consider that passage as it is rendered in The Message:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.  He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death–and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.  Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth–even those long ago dead and buried–will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”

I recently wrote:

Christmas is the historically accurate account of a glorious King entering His inglorious creation.  It is the celebration of Deity dressing Himself in humanity. It is also a gift-wrapped opportunity for us to respond appropriately to the person and works of Jesus Christ.  The Lord came low that I might be raised high.  However, that raising has a very inauspicious beginning.  It starts with the bow of the knee.  In other words, any future exaltation results from present humility. The Bible repeatedly stresses the importance of our knowing and loving Jesus Christ.  Allow me to put it in these words:  This is the Christmas to willingly bow the knee and confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

I’ve often heard the adage “Wise men still worship Jesus.”  While I appreciate the sentiment, I prefer, “Humble men still worship Jesus.”  This afternoon I attended the funeral of Dr. Malcolm Fary.  He was a humble man who worshipped Jesus Christ.  Allow me to share just one example.  In 1993, I taught the adult Sunday School class at Westminster Presbyterian Church here in Dayton.  “Mac” was in my class.  Although he held a Ph.D and had taught for many years, he sat in class each Sunday with a desire to know God more intimately.  His hunger was contagious, and his timely comments added rich flavor to the class!  As this day comes to its conclusion, I find myself wanting to follow in Mac’s footsteps.  I desire to fall down (in humility, in worship) as I go up (grow closer to God, grow closer into the image of Christ)!  Join me in falling down this Christmas!

Tim Tebow and the Mother of Jesus

Got  your attention? 

Several days ago (scroll down below) I wrote about God doing the impossible.  That concept came to mind again when I read this quote from Denver QB Tim Tebow (courtesy of ESPN football brain John Clayton who mentioned a NY Times article):

“If you believe, unbelievable things can become possible.”

Munch on that for a moment.  Is it true, or is it simply another cliche uttered by a religious zealot?  I contend that Tebow’s statement is indeed true.  The birth of Jesus illustrates this clearly.  The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a young woman from Nazareth (1:26-38).  After announcing that God was going to do the impossible (1:31), Mary replied with faith (1:38). Then the Lord did as is His custom–He kept His promise!  Yet another prophecy was fulfilled!  An unbelievable thing became a possibility, then a reality. 

My guess is that Tebow’s statement is meant to convey the confidence the Broncos players had in one another.  They “believed” in each other.  As a result, they moved forward over the past six games as a unit, rather than as individual players.  Their record during that time was an astounding 6-0!  I write this as they prepare to play the point-accumulating New England Patriots.  It has been fun to watch Denver and Tebow win in the final minutes and seconds of their recent games.   I believe that ride will end this Sunday.  My hope, however, is that the believing will continue.  I know that my believing in the God of the impossible will endure!  With Christmas just weeks away, I rejoice that God rewards faith (Heb. 11:6). 

If you believe, unbelievable things can become possible–especially if your believing is connected to the one true God!

Contradiction: Humility and the NFL

I heard an interview this morning with ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer.  When asked about the Denver Broncos and their quarterback, Tim Tebow, Dilfer accurately stated:  “The only one who doesn’t make this about Tim Tebow is Tim Tebow.”  He was referring to Tim’s humility in interviews during the Broncos’ current six-game winning streak.  And–he is correct.  Tim deflects praise, giving credit to his teammates and to the coaching staff.  Humility and the NFL do not often go together.  It is a sport where a wide receiver will catch a TD pass and celebrate like he just won the Superbowl when–in fact–his team is still down by twenty-one points.  Thankfully, the NFL has men like Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow–men who know how to lead, not simply pass (Aaron) or run (Tim).*  They lead with humility.

As we prepare for Christmas, we are reminded that there simply is no better example of someone who led with humility than Jesus Christ.  This afternoon I led our 7th-High School students in a study of Philippians 2:11-14.  Here’s the text:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:5-11; NASB).

Christmas is the historically accurate account of a glorious King entering His inglorious creation.  It is the celebration of Deity dressing Himself in humanity. It is also a gift-wrapped opportunity for us to respond appropriately to the person and works of Jesus Christ.  The Lord came low that I might be raised high.  However, that raising has a very inauspicious beginning.  It starts with the bow of the knee.  In other words, any future exaltation results from present humility. The Bible repeatedly stresses the importance of our knowing and loving Jesus Christ.  Allow me to put it in these words:  This is the Christmas to willingly bow the knee and confess Jesus Christ is Lord.  Why would we wait another year?  If NFL quarterbacks can be humble about that which is relatively meaningless, can’t we be humble about that which is absolutely necessary? 

*In a post-game interview on Sunday, Chicago Bears’ all-pro lineman Brian Urlacher is quoted saying the following about Denver QB Tim Tebow:  “He’s a very good running back.”  That is funny!