Resolve to Read in the New Year

It’s that time of year when masses of people come up with great ideas to make next year better than this year.  Some will resolve to lose weight only to gain.  Others will resolve to reign in their spending habits and finally make some financial headway.  Whether you are one who generally succeeds in your New Year’s resolutions, or if you are one who tends to only make it a few weeks, it NEVER hurts to try!

January 1 is a great day to start reading through the Bible once more!  Looking at all 66 books at once will seem daunting.  But when you realize that you can make it through the entire book in one year by simply reading 4 or 5 chapters each day, all-of-the-sudden it seems a little more attainable.

There are plenty of different ways to read through the Bible in a year.  Denny Burk has come up with a simple 4-5 chapter per day plan that takes you from Genesis through Revelation.  (Links to both Word and PDF versions are about halfway down in his post.)

You can listen while you read using a daily Bible reading podcast.  Here is one that goes through various parts of the Bible each day.  Here is another one that is in chronological order.  The previous two links are iTunes specific, but you can find other podcasts that do not require iTunes or an Apple device at all.  Just search Google for “Daily Audio Bible Podcast.”

The plans I have mentioned so far are all “slow and steady” methods.  Peter Krol makes the case for “sprinting to the end” – starting January 1 and finishing the entire Bible as fast as you can.

What ever way you start reading, I can guarantee one thing:  Any distance you make through the Bible will be MORE than what you would have read had you not started!  So resolve now to make 2014 your Bible-reading year!

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Some Christmas Thoughts

You probably don’t know this about me, but I can recite the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Well, almost.  I never sat down to try and memorize it, but one of the books I had growing up had this poem in it, and who knows how many times I read it!  So even now, if for some reason part of that poem pops into my head, I can without effort go through the whole thing – almost.  The place I get stuck is probably different each time, but no bother – it’s just a fun, imaginative poem.  Not knowing it is not consequential.

I can also recite the Christmas story found in Luke chapter two.  Just the other day my children were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when all of the sudden, my ears perked up.  One of the characters was reciting the Christmas story!  “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord…” you can finish it in your head at this point.  Or at least almost.

It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt,” referring to relationships that are allowed to grow stale.  When it comes to those of us who have grown up hearing the Christmas story each and every year, perhaps we could say that “familiarity breeds indifference.”  Indifference is the almost that gets us to miss out on the fullest joy of Christmas.

Oh we know that Christmas isn’t about presents & pageants, or eggnog & cookies.  We know it’s about God the Father sending the Son to earth.  We even know the reason Jesus came was so that He could die.  But if these dry facts constituted all Christmas were about, then our atheist detractors would be right in saying that God is a dastardly cosmic child-abuser.   Familiarity with indifference does not mean that we “forget” the truth of Christmas, but maybe that we “fail to actively remember.”

Perhaps our almost dilutes our Christmas joy because we look for joy in family and festivities rather than in the Father.  Maybe our almost robs us of our Christmas peace because we have allowed situations and circumstances to cloud our view of the Savior.  Whatever your almost is, find it, fix it, and revel once again in the greatest gift ever given: a gift not wrapped in paper, but in flesh; not shining reflections from a bow, but radiating the eternal glory of God.  And remember, that gift is for you!

John 1:14, 16 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Merry Christmas!

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Winter Weather Reminder

In the case of service cancellation due to inclement weather, check with local news outlets KCCI, WHO.

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A Clear and Present Danger…

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently spoke at Brigham Young University.  His address was entitled, “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age.”  So why in the world would a Baptist be invited to speak at a Mormon university?  Though many of their theological stands are universes apart, when it comes to  marriage and family values, both share many of the same standards and face many of the same threats in today’s society.

There is so much we could talk about in this address, which you can read in full-length here.  Below I have highlighted some passages that whet your appetite to read the whole thing.

Dr. Mohler may have gone in to the belly of the Mormon beast, as it were, but he did not go in with any inkling of theological compromise or wavering.  Note his “polite frankness” in the following paragraphs:

I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.

I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences. Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.

He then goes on to make his point that the redefinition of marriage in our country is not of contemporary ilk, but has been in a continuous state of redefinition over the past few decades.

We must note with honesty and candor that this moral revolution and the disestablishment of marriage did not begin with the demand of same-sex couples to marry. The subversion of marriage began within the context of the great intellectual shift of modernity. Marriage was redefined in terms of personal fulfillment rather than covenant obligation. Duty disappeared in the fog of demands for authenticity and the romanticized ideal of personal fulfillment. Marriage became merely a choice and then a personal expression. Companionate marriage was secularized and redefined solely in terms of erotic and romantic appeal—for so long as these might last…

The divorce revolution has not only made marriage a tentative, if not temporary, condition, it has redefined marriage as nothing more than a public celebration of an essentially and non-negotiably individual act of self-expression…

Heterosexuals did a very good job of undermining marriage before same-sex couples arrived with their demands. The marriage crisis is a moral crisis and it did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there. The logic of same-sex marriage will not end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can and must mean everything. It is just a matter of time.

As of yesterday, homosexual marriage is currently legal in 15 states plus Washington D.C.  Ten years ago it was zero.  (Massachusetts made it legal in November, 2003.)  We did not begin losing the marriage battle in the last ten years with same-sex marriage.  We lost it when we abandoned the biblical model of marriage of one man and one woman until one died.

The battle for marriage will not be won by the influence of a political party, the actions of a legislature or court, or by a groundswell of grass-roots movements.  It can only happen by way of a God-sent revival that results in changed hearts and changed lives.  So while we continue to fight for the one true definition of marriage, let us battle even harder for the salvation of souls and the surrender of hearts and minds to the truth of God’s Word.

Soli Deo Gloria

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