December 2009

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?



     Are you a member of the church you are attending?  How you answer this question may speak about your ecclesiology. 

     For those that answer this question with a ‘no’, the clarification they give reveals what they think God thinks about the church (ecclesiology).  Some would then say, ‘I am a member of the Church (the universal church of all believers past, present and future), and that is all that matters to God.’  Others will say, ‘The Bible does not teach church membership.’  A final group responds this way, ‘I am not able to see a compelling reason for church membership.’

     My ecclesiology is such that I do believe that church membership matters (both Church and church).  I will address the arguments against church membership in some of my January posts.  Right now, I want you to chew on this quote from Mark Dever in his book What Is A Healthy Church.

So please, friend, don’t grow complacent through some vague idea that you possess the righteousness of Christ if you’re not pursuing a life of righteousness.  Likewise, please do not be deceived by a vague conception of the universal church to which you belong if you’re not pursuing that life together with an actual church (28).

Here are the books that I will attempt to read this January:

  1. ‘What Is A Healthy Church’ by Mark Dever
  2. ‘Christ & Culture Revisited’ by D. A. Carson
  3. ‘A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World’ by Paul Miller
  4. ‘Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice’ by Brian Chapell

What are you reading in January?

My family loves Christmas songs.  We love them all.  We are just as likely to be singing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ as ‘O Holy Night’.  I was meditating on the meaning of Christmas last week in preparation for preaching from Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  A thought struck me; the meaning of Christmas is often dictated to us by the songs we sing.  In this first post about the meaning of Christmas, I want to share with you the meaning of Christmas as determined by the popular, traditional songs.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; it’s about snow falling so it is a white Christmas.  It’s about family; if the ones you love are not there, then it may be a blue Christmas, even though it is a white Christmas.  It’s about Silver Bells ringing or maybe it’s about Silver and Gold.  It’s about children snuggling in their beds dreaming of sugar plums, or hula hoops, or their two front-teeth.  It’s about the fire crackling, chestnuts roasting, and marshmallows toasting.  It’s about Rudolph and his red-nose pulling Santa to deliver presents to the nice kids.  And if those kids happen to wake up, they may be scarred for life because they may see mommy kissing Santa Claus!

Our Christmas songs on popular radio give us a great sense of the cultural traditions of Christmas, but they make a mess of the meaning of Christmas.

**Disclaimer:  I am not advocating the retreat and boycott of traditional Christmas songs.  Please continue to listen to these light and fun songs.  Know our culture so we can speak to our culture.

Here is another clip from Andrew Peterson.  This one is called “So Long Moses”; he masterfully weaves the story of the Old Testament figures with the story of the One to whom they pointed.  We are using this song as the theme song for the current sermon series on the book of Judges titled “The Crownless Community.  Enjoy!

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