Friday, February 22, 2013

A Practical Calling

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed." And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord."
Acts 9:32-35

I've read this portion of Scripture multiple times, but have never really thought about this.  At this point in my Bible reading plan I'll have read through all of the gospels in a row.  I get used to the blind seeing, the mute talking, the crippled healed, etc, so this is how I'll usually read this passage:

Peter went to some place and healed a guy who was paralyzed and everyone was amazed.
Acts 9:32-35

Here's what I've missed out on by reading this way:
  1. This is a great picture of salvation.  We were paralyzed in our sins, wanting to move, but couldn't.  We could only lay in our beds and do nothing for the glory of God.  I would use what strength I had to sit up to watch television, play video games, or waste time in other ways.  Without warning, God healed Aeneas and He does the same with us. 
  2. Once we're healed there is a call to rise.  No more laying in our beds, no more living for sin, for self; we must rise!  If we do fall into sin, then we immediately rise to repent and trust Jesus with our all. Proverbs affirms this and says that "the righteous falls seven times and rises again".  This rising is the summation of the New Testament.  What happened in beginning of the Old Testament?  It was the fall of Adam and Eve, or the fall of mankind.  What happens in the New?  Jesus rises from the dead!  Not only this, but he's constantly calling the sick, the dead, or the apostles to rise.  
  3. For whatever reason, this guy was commanded to make his bed... right after he was healed from being paralyzed for years.  What a thing!  Peter didn't say, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and go be an open air preacher."  The command was simple, but it was powerful: "...rise and make your bed."  There is a practical call here.
  4. There is nothing special mentioned about what Aeneas did to be an instrument in the saving of all of the people of Lydda and Sharon, except rising and making his bed.  God, at times, saves men by saving men.  Watching a man, who was spiritually paralyzed, walk is a testimony to the power of God.  Men see it and must admit that something happened.  The portion of Scripture here doesn't mention Aeneas handing out a single tract or talking to a single individual (not saying he didn't do these things, but they're not mentioned).  It seems as though he merely lived a normal, 9 to 5, Christian life.  Nothing special about him other than the fact that God caused him to rise and make his bed.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baby Boxes: More Frequent than We Might Think

So I posted the video below thinking "Wow, what a novel and caring idea!". However, when I got into my car and headed to work tonight I heard a story on NPR about the spread of "baby boxes" in Europe and apparently they are not loved by all! I Some people feel that these boxes aren't truly helping struggling mothers but allowing them to give up instead of providing the resources they really need to succeed. Still further is the argument that these boxes are so anonymous that it violates the child's right to know their parents. The story does a great job of showing both viewpoints and the pro-baby-boxers say that the right to life must be ensured first and foremost. Listen to the story in the link below and weigh the alternatives for yourself.

Click here for the news story by NPR it's pretty short and covers a lot of information. Who knows, we might see them start popping up here in the states soon.

A South Korean George Muller in the Making?

"The Drop Box" - Documentary PROMO from Brian Ivie on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cyberspace Doesn't Exist

"Perhaps the heart of this confusion is our insistence that the Internet is a there, that it is a place. We never referred to the space between my mailbox and my friend’s mailbox as a place (letterspace?). Letters were in transit. They were in trucks or on trains, but they were not in a place. When I wrote a letter, I was not entering a “letter world.” Similarly, when I watched TV, an inherently nonparticipatory act, I was still in my living room, not in some strange place between my home and the cable company. But when it comes to the Internet, we talk about entering cyberspace, a space that is really no “place” at all. We insist that when we participate in an online forum or take on a character in an Internet-based video game, we are present somewhere and somehow. We take our sense of self, our sense of presence, and transport it into the ethereal world of bits and bytes. Suddenly we are here and there, at a desk in body but in soul or spirit somehow present in cyberspace. And this is new to us, new to the human experience. When we venture into this world, this mediated world, we leave our bodies behind. And more and more of us are finding that we actually like it this way, that being able to experience a space free from the limitations of real presence brings a kind of joy.
Cyberspace has given us a new way of understanding the relationship of life and being to our flesh-and-blood bodies. We now see cyberspace as a place but also as a state of being. Cyberspace gives us a place to be ourselves apart from our bodies. And in many cases the draw is irresistible. Often, we are led to view this as a superior alternative to the real world. Why? Because it is a place that allows us to break free of the limits of our bodies and our God-given circumstances."

Tim Challies: The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digitial Explosion

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Faithful with Knowledge

"Here is a word of caution: Use your knowledge properly. God will not bless anyone who uses knowledge as an excuse to sin. Nor will He increase your knowledge of Him if you keep it shut up in your conscience, afraid to confess Him before men. The light of truth in a man's heart is like a candle flame-it must have air to flourish. If you keep it hidden for very long, what little knowledge you have will be taken away."

-William Gurnall The Christian in Complete Armour (pg182)

""For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away." Matthew 25:29 and Mark 4:25

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

God Made a Farmer

Amidst a storm of horribly inappropriate commercials during this last Superbowl Sunday was a tribute to farmers by Dodge. It stands out as the most serious and heartfelt commercial I can remember during a Superbowl. But I'm not sure of my thoughts on it yet. My hesitation comes from the knowledge that many Americans will take for granted that God and farmers go together because of some sort of cultural affiliation and nothing more. God made farmers, stay and home moms, and business men alike! Please see my other post on pursuing God no matter what vocation you end up in. We are all born in sin and are separated from God apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Associating farming with faith can be dangerous for future generations and give people the wrong idea of Christianity as an American conservative cultural characteristic rather than a real life changing encounter with a living God. Yet, I still am thankful for farmers and they deserve a tribute from those of us who benefit from their hard work. In that way I enjoy this ad and the heart behind it. Give it a view and see what you think. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Exemplary Husband's Love

For those of you that don't know: I'm engaged and soon to be married to a lovely +Helena Kowalewski (June 29!).  Right now I'm reading The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott to help me prepare a bit.  I'll do a full review of the book later, Lord willing, but for now I'm going to give some spoilers... because this book is so wonderful and I can't contain myself.  In the eighth chapter, Scott divulges into how the Exemplary Husband is to love his wife and let's just say it is fantastic. Scott doesn't hold punches.  Warning: This is going to be very practical and yet very biblical.  This is also beneficial for relationships outside of the marriage spectrum, so you single people need to get reading!  What follows is a mixture of bad thoughts and actions with the proper good, loving response that a man (or woman generally) ought to have towards his wife.  Hopefully it will be evident to you which is good and which is bad...  


Pride (Thoughts and Actions): 
  • Why doesn't she think of me more? / Why isn't she doing ____ for me?
    • How can I think of her now? / What can I do for her?
  • My life is so hard. / She should ____
    • God will help me - how can I bless her?
  • I'll never be what I should be, why even try? Woe is me.
    • Lord help me to please you by being the husband I should be.  Thank you that You promise to help me grow.
  • I will do this if she will _____.
    • I'm going to do this just to bless her and for You, Lord.
  • I want to do what I want to do.
    • What would she like to do?
  • I don't want to _______.
    • I don't feel like ______, but I will because I want to love You, Lord, and her.
  • What's in it for me?
    • I want nothing in return.
  • This is an inconvenience to me.
    • Christ was inconvenienced for me. I'll be inconvenienced.
  • She should do it my way.
    • What would she like?  I can prefer her and still do Your will, so I will.
  • I'm tired. / I'm not going to _____.
    • I'm tired.  Lord, give me strength to continue loving and giving.
  • She gets on my nerves. / She is so ____ (negative trait).
    • She is, (positive trait).  Everyone (especially me) has their weaknesses.
  • She doesn't know anything. / I don't need her or anyone's input.
    • I need to listen to her / I don't know everything.
  • I'm a real catch, a gift.  What's her problem?  She should appreciate me more.
    • If she has a problem with me maybe I need to learn and change.  She probably has a point.
  • I know I'm right.  Anyone who doesn't agree with me is wrong.  I don't need this.
    • I will listen, consider and study God's Word and think about it.  I could very well be wrong.
  • I'm fine.  I've been faithful in everything.
    • I have not been completely faithful.  God sets the standard.  I must grow in faithfulness.
  • Bragging about my goodness, good qualities, or accomplishments
    • Thanking God for any good in me or that is accomplished through me
  • Waiting or looking for her to love me or do for me first
    • Initiating affection and other acts of love
  • Just pointing out her wrong-doing and not mine
    • Focusing on my wrong-doing
  • Not asking what my wife would like but choosing what brings me pleasure or allows me to avoid discomfort or effort
    • Asking what she would like; suffering discomfort for the sake of love and pleasing God
  • Planning my day off around me
    • Considering my wife and her desires when planning my only day off
  • Rejecting or tuning out my wife's input or admonishments
    • Listening to what she has to say, asking questions and committing to think about it, pray about it, and/or study it out - whatever applies; then getting back to her about it

Fear (Thoughts and Actions):
  • If I do or say that, she will get mad.
    • If she gets mad, I will deal with it God's way.
  • She's going to find someone else.  I'm going to isolate her.
    • I will believe the best of her, and let her carry on life in a normal fashion.
  • If I give an inch, she'll take a mile
    • I will love her and do what I can for her
  • I have to be in control and keep her dependent or I might lose her
    • God is in control.  I don't need to control her.  I need to love her.
  • Staying quiet when I should speak
    • Speaking up and facing any consequences for God's glory
  • Being jealous and controlling to project my interests
    • Letting her have other interests and other people in her life
  • Doing something to keep her happy and/or happy with me
    • Doing loving things to please God

Bitterness (Thoughts and Actions):
  • I've had it!  If she does _____ one more time, that's it.  Phooey on her.  I'm going to leave her!
    • I will keep loving her.  Christ loved me when I didn't deserve it.  My love is forever; no matter what.
  • I'll show her.  I'll get even with her.
    • I will return good for evil.  My love does not depend on her love.  I have promised before God to love her.
  • I'll never forgive her for that.  She doesn't deserve it.
    • God forgave me and says I must, therefore, forgive others.  I have sinned against her too.  She is just acting sinfully because she is not in a right place with God.  I will choose to show love to her even if she may not deserve it and I will be willing to say, "I forgive you," when she repents and asks. 
  • She did that deliberately to hurt me or embarrass me.
    • I need to believe the best and ask her about that.
  • I'm not going to do anything for her or love her.  Look at what she is doing or at what she has done to me.
    • I will love her with Christ's kind of love no matter what she has done.  And, I will seek to help her turn away from sin.
  • Cutting my wife down to others or to her face
    • Saying good things about her
  • Not believing the best of my wife.  Holding her past sin against her.
    • Thinking the best of her and remembering that I forgave her for the past
  • Planning or doing wicked or vengeful things so that my wife suffers
    • Planning what I will not do when she sins against me
  • Continuing to think negative thoughts about my wife.
    • Planning thankful thoughts to think about my wife
  • Refusing to do loving things for my wife.
    • Planning loving things to do for my wife and then doing them

Preoccupation (Thoughts and Actions):
  • I'm too busy to talk, pray, or spend time with her.
    • She is more important. God's priority will be my priority.  I will show her love.
  • I have too many things on my mind to handle another thing
    • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I will put forth the effort (even thought I don't feel like it) because I love her and God.
  • This is more important (when it is not) or I have do this (when I don't).
    • I will let go of what I want to do and do the more important thing.  I will have God's viewpoint.
  • God has called me to my ministry, not to be caught up with relational things with my wife.
    • My ministry to my wife qualifies me for other ministry.  God is relational.  I am committed to her and our relationship.
  • Ignoring problems
    • Talking to my wife about issues and seeking biblical solutions
  • Neglecting my wife
    • Planning time with her and putting that time before other things
  • Not praying with and for my wife
    • Planning time to pray for and with her
  • Over-extending myself
    • Cutting back on whatever I can to make the time that is needed to love her as I should and thereby strengthen our marriage

Great Memory Verse

Here's a wonderful verse to hide in your heart, especially if you feel overwhelmed or like you have a lot on your plate:

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

That pretty much covers everything.