Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pursuing the Christ, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

In Pursuing the Christ, Jennifer Kennedy Dean explores the very familiar in a unique way. The Christmas story for many of us has become too familiar and overly commercialized. In this 31-day devotional book Dean explores the fear of the elements that weighed heavily, the exhausting fatigue of a young girl in labor, the bleak surroundings and absent mother, and the love of God on display for all of the world to see. The King of the universe came and breathed his first breath. He left the throne room of God for the stable. The aromas of Heaven exchanged for the harshness of earth’s dust and fume. The exquisite love and devotion of God is intimately written in beautiful morning and evening devotional thoughts. I have been re-awakened to a new perspective. I have been challenged to rethink my descriptions. May you allow the love of God to shape your heart and His power to change your mind. Let December slow a little. Take in a freshness while Pursuing the Christ. You will want to year after year.

We Win As a Team

I am a big fan of college football and will soon really enjoy college basketball, but one season at a time. I like Gameday on ESPN. I like the game within the game. I like rivalry week and bedlam is just around the corner. While the media may hype one player or two, it takes the whole team to accomplish a victory. Every year the team establishes the purpose, goal, and vision for the year. Every week the team is reminded of their goal which is to win this game, the conference, and a bowl game. The team has the goal because they will win as team and lose as a team. As one person stated, there is no “I” in team.

God has a plan for Perry. He has a vision and goals. He wants to see the lost found. He wants to move people from darkness to light. He wants to take people from slavery to freedom. He wants to take people from death to life. Amazing at that may be, He wants to do it through the people of God and the local churches. You can find Jesus’ final statements in Matthew 28 and Acts 1. Merging these together we see that God’s vision is that all people be transformed by the power of the Gospel. His goal is that we make disciples by and through the power of the Holy Spirit and our witness. We must take the power of God to the people of Perry.

Every Bible-believing church has the same words of Jesus giving us the same mandate. We must make disciples. We aren’t making Baptists, Methodists, Assembly of Gods, or Nazarenes. We are to help people choose Jesus, follow Jesus, and lead others to Jesus. This is every church’s, every person’s responsibility. May we in the days ahead agree and unify together for the cause and kingdom of Christ. He gave us these words before He left. May we obey them until He returns.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Family God Uses, Tom and Kim Blackaby

From the author of The Man God Uses comes another practical, challenging, and inspiring book. The Family God Uses takes a thorough examination of how God has used the family throughout time as recorded in the Bible and applies what is learned to today’s family. Drawing on their own family as contemporary material, Tom and Kim Blackaby share insight into the way God wants and chooses to uses families.

They begin, well, at the beginning. God’s design for the family is evident in the first family of Adam and Eve and then through the Old Testament. In an easy-to-read style the reader walks away with a good foundational knowledge of the Bible stories and application into the family. Using families did not end there. Jesus re-establishes the prominence of family by inspiring the writers of the New Testament to use such language to describe the church. In a fascinating way, the reader is introduced to the choice of God to use families as metaphors for the church and as building blocks for the church. The family structure is central to the growth and development of the Christian community. The second half of the book describes how families today can become families that God uses. Through motivating passages, the reader is encouraged to engage in practical, meaningful activities.

The Family God Uses provides positive Biblical insight, encouraging application and practical reflection opportunities. If you want to know why God chooses families and how He’s choosing them now this is a must read.

Give Thanks!

Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
you children of his servant Abraham,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
Psalm 105:1-5

Someone once said that possibly the two most powerful words are thank you. The apostle Paul, being well-acquainted with Psalm 105 as a Pharisee, was very generous with saying thank you. As you know, Paul traveled quite a bit starting churches throughout the Middle East. In every one of his letters that he writes to these churches once he is gone he tells them he thanks God for them. He thanks God for their faith, strength, outreach, and more. He thanks God for the people and the church whether it was a positive or a negative experience. Paul had learned that gratitude is critical to a stable and growing faith. He needed to be thankful to God for every occasion because in every occasion God has a plan.

Thanking God for the good things in life is easy: salvation, family, health, friends, good times, etc. Thanking God for the bad things in life is not easy, but necessary. Have you thanked God for the furloughs? Have you thanked God that the month is longer than the paycheck? Have you thanked God for the difficult child, wayward teen, failing grade, loveless marriage, roof damage, wrecked car, bad hair days, your teenage daughter’s pregnancy, or bullies?

I am not saying we should be happy about any of these items nor am I making light of the very strong emotions some would cause. What I am saying is we should find ways to be thankful, even in the difficult moments of our lives. What can I learn from this situation? How can God receive glory in my trial? How can my faith deepen through this difficulty? In the good, see things God’s way. In the bad, see things God’s way. Be thankful in all things.