December 2010

Posted by Dean Paulson

Technology has provided a lot of access to God’s word.  One of my new favorites is the Bible Gateway audio Bible.  Listen to scripture online.  We also use it as a family occasionally to change it up a bit.   Check it out.


Posted by Dean Paulson

Take a listen or read John Pipers excellent sermon from 1994, “As We Forgive Our Debtors.”

 Merry Christmas

Posted by Dean Paulson

Boy, I don’t know how many times I have heard that line when Christmas season comes around.  Don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas.  We were then reminded of the greatest gift ever given.  The gift of course is the gift of God’s only son.  A part of that gift was the exciting truth that whoever should believe in him would not perish but receive everlasting life. (John 3:16)  However, if you are reading this article it is highly likely that you understand what the true meaning Christmas is.  The question I want us to wrestle with a little bit this Christmas is the question of what should my response be to the true meaning of Christmas.  I would like to suggest two responses.

The first response is worship.  I firmly believe that the reason God saves us is so that we can worship Him.  God created us and designed us to worship him.  Sin entered the world and  humanity began to worship everything (including themselves) but the one true God.  At Christmas we are reminded that God sends his Son so that we could be forgiven. Once we are forgiven we can now do what we were created to do which was to worship the one true God in spirit and in truth.  Jesus tells us this in John 4:23-2423 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (NIV)  That time is now.  We now are to worship Christ with our voices of praise accord to Pslam 9:2 “I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High” (NIV).  We also are to worship him with every aspect of our lives.  Romans 12:1,  1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  (NIV)

The second response should be that we want to make the true meaning of Christmas known to our family and friends, our coworkers and business and associates and to everyone in our community.  If we truly understand and believe the true meaning of Christmas, that Jesus entered into time and space and walked on earth in human form.  That he died on the cross and rose again and now sits at the right hand of the father.  And that all who are dead in their trespasses and sins can be made alive spiritually in Christ Jesus by grace through faith.  Then we should want everyone we know and come in contact with and who live in our community, and even those at the ends of the earth to know about this “true meaning of Christmas”

As we enter this Christmas season I want to encourage you to not only remember the true meaning of Christmas but to respond to it.  Respond to it by asking God to give you a heart bent towards worshiping him this Christmas.  And then worship him.  Ask him to give you a heart bent towards those who do not know the true meaning of Christmas.   Pray for opportunities to share your faith with those in your circles of influence.  This would be putting the true meaning of Christmas into action.

The following post is from Jon Moore.  Jon is a recent graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently serving as the pastoral intern at Manchester Creek Community Church. 

We had a beautiful service Sunday with singer/songwriter Christa Wells aiding us in musical worship, which has me listening to some of her music. One song, “A Thousand Things” reminds us of how in the midst of deep personal pain, there is far more going on in the plans of our almighty, loving God than we can see in our immediate circumstances. We see so little, because we are so limited in our understanding and because our emotions are so raw and overwhelming. Still, God is at work, weaving a web of grace that reaches far beyond our vision, much less our comprehension.
This is a privileged reminder for me right now, as our household is wrestling with difficult challenges. My wife and I are trying to discern where God may lead us after this internship concludes, and at least one possibility leaves us still working jobs that are stressful without being particularly rewarding. Also, our roommates have recently discovered that their hope and plan to go on staff with Campus Crusade must be put on hold for a while. So, both couples are wrestling with God’s sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom.
Christa’s timely musical reminder dovetails well with a series of testimonies I’ve heard about the variety of ways God has brought friends to Christ. God has a way of using the bizarre and mundane to accomplish astonishing results in this world. And of course, the most powerful example of that is the cross. To think heaven’s greatest triumph would come through man’s most horrific actions, the torture and murder of the sinless Son of God… well, let’s just be honest and say it’s not what we would have done. It never would have crossed our minds.
I don’t know everyone else’s troubles, and neither do you. We’re far too preoccupied with our own concerns so often. But the reminders are all around us that we don’t need to be in control of events to have security… nor should we want to be. Our God is far more creative, wise, and effective than any of our pitiful attempts would be.

Posted by Ken Schmidt

Posted by Dean Paulson

1 John 2:15-17 (New International Version, ©2010)

 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

 Jesus will be second to nothing.    He certainly did not come to earth, become human, suffer and die so that he could be second to any material things from the world.  Could you imagine having a car that gets old and wears out be more important to us than Jesus?  What about a house that is now worth less than what you own on it.  What about being more concerned about your reputation or happiness?  I have had students tell me that they are addicted to fun.  Can you imagine the Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this month being alright with being second to fun?  I had an assignment I would have my students do at Northwestern College.    They would list what they loved and valued and what Jesus loved and valued.  They would find many similarities between what they valued and loved and what Jesus valued and loved.  They also would find many things that were not similar.  Guess what one thing numerous students said they “loved” that Jesus did not.  Their cell phones.  Yes, their cell phones. 

Those are material things.  Guess what though?  Jesus does not want to be second to human beings either.  He does not want to be second to our friends or even to a spouse or child.  People are extremely important obviously.  The Bible is full of guidelines and commands telling us how to relate to a spouse or children, parents, employers and fellow believers in God honoring ways.  However, he will be second to nothing from this world.  The key is the word love.  Anything that we love more than Christ will pass away because it is of the world.

This Christmas season remember that “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” and “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” (NIV)