July 2007


images811.jpgIf you’re a parent, you know that children love books.  From an early age children love to listen to stories and be read to.  Each night, after our girls get their jammies on and teeth brushed, we give them their own “story time.”  This story time is where they gather up a few books from their “book nook” (their closet full of books!) and sit on their beds to “read” before we read the Bible to them and pray.  

One night as they finished up their story time and we read to them from the Bible, I could see that Emie had a ton of books on her bed.  I told her that she needed to choose just one book on her bed and I’d be back in a few minutes to tuck her and Lily in for the night.  When I returned, I gave them each a kiss and a blessing and then went to shut off the light.  But before I closed the door I caught a glimpse of the one book that Emie chose to have with her in bed.  To my surprise, it was her Bible.  As I shut the bedroom door I smiled and thanked God for the One Book that’s already special to Emie.  

jesus_black1.jpgjesus_white1.jpgjesus_chinese1.jpg

If we have no idea what Jesus looked like, how should he be portrayed?  Listen to John Piper talk about how artistic portrayals of Jesus should be racially diverse.

(HT: DG Blog)

Here’s an excerpt from a recent article in the Denver Post:

20070709_115814_happy_2001.jpgWe’re a nation with a happiness fetish.  A new book on happiness seems to roll off the presses every day … Millions of Americans seek happiness in the usual things: shopping, sex, food, drugs, alcohol, marriage, divorce, extreme sports, meditation and movies like ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’

According to this article, happiness is an inside job and we are to experiment with what works for us.  It lists these five essential happiness habits, adapted from “How to Do Just About Anything” on ehow.com.

Figure out what is important to you. Do you value a certain kind of job, material things, a relationship, time alone, time with others, time to relax, time to be creative, time to read, time to listen to music or time to have fun?

To be happy, you have to make happiness a priority. Decide to make more time in your life to do more of what is important to you and makes you feel happier.

Start with little things and work up. Little things might be reading for 15 minutes, taking a walk, calling a friend or ca4e2yf2.jpgbuying a great-smelling soap, shampoo, candle or tea that you will enjoy every time you use it.

Focus on what is positive. In a journal, write down as many positive things as you can think of about yourself, others and life in general. Keep it handy, read it and continue adding to it.

Appreciate what is working in your life. In the major areas of your life – your health, job, love life, friends, family, money and living situation – what is going well?

It was Blaise Pascal who said that “all men seek happiness.”  But I believe God purposefully made us to pursue happiness–happiness not found in what this world has to offer, but what God has to offer.

In fact, John Piper says,

Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn people for longing to be happy. People are condemned for forsaking God and seeking their happiness elsewhere (Jeremiah 2:13). This is the essence of sin. The Bible actually commands us to delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4). Jesus teaches us to love God more than money because our heart is where our treasure is (Matt. 6:21). Paul wants us to believe that gaining Christ is worth the loss of everything else (Phil 3:8) and the author of Hebrews exhorts us to endure suffering, like Jesus, for the joy set before us (Heb. 12: 1-2). Examine the Scriptures and you’ll see this over and over again.

So where do we find true happiness?  It’s found in pursuing the pleasures of God in Christ instead of the pleasures of wealth, power or lust. Psalm 16:11 says, “You show me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy, in Your right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

waiting11.jpgI wonder how much time we spend waiting in life.  We wait for lots of things, don’t we?  We wait at the check-out line.  We wait in the elevator.  We wait when we’re stuck in traffic.  We even wait in the “waiting room” for our name to be called.  No one likes this kind of waiting.  It is often a passive, inactive, and even worrisome type of waiting.  But we also wait in a different way, don’t we?  We wait for that special package in the mail.  We wait for our good friends to come over.  We wait for the weekend.  We wait for our spouse to get back home.  And we wait for the day we’ll finally meet our baby.  This kind of waiting is different, isn’t it?  It’s the kind of waiting that requires patience, but patience mixed with hope.  It’s the kind of waiting that’s not passive but active.  It’s the kind of waiting that requires a trusting heart — the kind of waiting that’s filled with expectancy.  This kind of waiting is the waiting that God asks of us all throughout Scripture.  For example:

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” 

Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.”

The amazing thing is that God promises good things to those who wait for Him.  For example:

Isa. 40:31 says, “But they that wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint.”

Lam. 3:25 says, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

I admit, it’s hard for me to wait on God.  I want to take things into my own hands.  I want to somehow manuever myself to make sure things happen the way I think they should.  I lack patience.  I lack trust.  And I miss out on the joy of waiting on God.  The joy that comes from seeking Him and expecting great things from Him as I call out to him in prayer.  The joy that comes from meditating on the many promises of Scripture like, “God is for me and not against me” and “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:31-32).

When it comes down to it, waiting is really hoping in God.  Hoping in a God who will do what He said He will do, in his own time, for his own pleasure and for our own good.  So Lord, help us wait on you.

41qtzcmassl_aa240_1.jpgWith all the Harry Potter craze, I thought I’d give a few links for Christian parents who are wondering what to make of it.  If you’re wanting my view on the books, I must say that I don’t have much room to talk since I have yet to read them.  My wife has, but I’ll let her speak for herself perhaps at a different time.  If you have an opinion about these books, and especially in relationship to whether or not they would be worthwhile for your kids to read (depending on their age of course) let me know.

Today is our 9th Wedding Anniversary.  This morning Jaime gave me such an encouraging note and ended it with a poem entitled “More Love to Thee” by Elizabeth Prentiss.  Elizabeth Prentiss is the author of Stepping Heavenward, one of Jaime’s favorite books.  For the past few weeks she has been reading her biography called, Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee, which has been a huge encouragement to her faith.  I would recommend all husbands to get both of these books for your wife.  One of the greatest blessings for me is listening to my wife share about how she has been strengthened in her faith as she reads from the Scriptures and books such as these.  Here is the poem taken from her biography: 

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!

Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee; This is my earnest plea,

More love, O Christ, to Thee, More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;

Now Thee alone I seek; give what is best: This all my prayer shall be,

More love, O Christ, to Thee, More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, send grief or pain;

Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,

When they can sing with me,

More love, O Christ, to Thee, More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper They praise;

This be the parting cry my heart shall raise, This still its prayer shall be,

 More love, O Christ, to Thee,

More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

thumb1.jpg1.  Propitiation: Jesus drank the entire cup of God’s anger against us

God is loving and merciful but he is also holy and just.  He cannot just smile at sin and forget it.  In fact, God is angry at  sinners and is right to judge us.  Though we deserved to be punished and feel the anger of God upon us, Jesus took our place when he died on the cross.  On the cross he not only died to take away our sin, but He also died to drink the cup of all of God’s anger against us. (John 18:11, Rom. 3:25, Heb. 2:17)

chains_broken1.jpg2.  Redemption: Jesus paid the price to set us free from sin’s power

Before we become followers of Jesus we are slaves chained to our sin.  We can do nothing on our own to free us from the power and penalty of sin.  But Jesus came to pay the price (to redeem us) and set us free from the power of sin through his blood shed for us on the cross (Gal. 3:13, Titus 2:4, 1 Pet. 1:18-19)

058-prodigal-son1.jpg3.  Reconcilitation: Jesus brings us to God as a member of His family

When God sent Jesus to die on the cross he not only set us free from the power of sin, he also brought us into his family.  He completely changed us from being a far-off enemy to a close child and friend.  This picture of reconciliation can be seen clearly in the story of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32. (Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, Col. 1:20-22)

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