Thursday, November 22, 2012

Godward Gratitude

"God created humanity for gratitude. You exist to appreciate God. He created you to honor him by giving him thanks. Appreciating both who God is and his actions for us — in creating us and sustaining our lives — is fundamental to proper human life in God’s created world. As he describes in Romans 1 what’s gone wrong with the world, the apostle Paul gives us this glimpse of the place of appreciation in the created order:
"Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."
Part of what the first man and woman were created to do is honor God by being thankful. And part of what we exist to do is honor God by being thankful — and thus the numerous biblical commands enjoining gratitude.

Humanity was created to appreciate God."


We pause today and reflect on the countless graces that God pours out on the world. Both believers and non-believers alike share in the gifts of God, "for He sends rain on the just and on the unjust." But the greatest gift that any human soul can receive in this life is the miracle of a heart and mind healed from it's inherited blindness and now able to see "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."  God is the supreme Sovereign of the universe who alone deserves our gratitude, praise and thanksgiving. In John's vision of the end of time, he is witness to the throne room of God and hears angels and the elders surrounding the Throne of God proclaim: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." -Revelation 7:12. Scripture speaks loudly and clearly and constantly about the heart matter of gratitude toward our Father in Heaven.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. -Psalm 7:17

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. -Hebrews 12:28-29

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me. -Psalm 50:23

Too numerous to list, the Bible is one long, extended story that declares that God alone is worthy of all our praise, and that His adopted children will spend eternity with hearts overflowing with thanksgiving, bathing in the light of His glory. This is the reason that today and every day, we seek to live lives of worship and gratitude, and say with the Psalmist: "In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah." -Psalm 44:8

So today, we unite in spirit with God's Church to remember that: "He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." -Acts 14:17

The wind and the clouds and the blue in the skyThe sun and the moon and the stars so highThe sand on the shore and the waves in the seaThe air in my lungs and the way You made me
The blood in my veins and my heart You invadeThe plants how they grow and the trees and their shadeThe way that I feel and the love in my soulI thank you my God for letting me know.
I am captivated by YouIn all that you doI am captivated "Captivated" -Shawn MacDonald
Though life is but a fleeting breathA sigh too brief to measureMy King has crushed the curse of deathAnd I am his forever
Oh praise Him, hallelujahMy Delight and my RewardEverlasting, never failingMy Redeemer, my God
"My Soul Finds Rest"- Aaron Keyes
"Father, we thank you for the Cross of Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life, a life that begins now, as we see and savor Your great works and your kindness that leads us into lives of contrition and repentance, for you alone are Holy."
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  -Psalm 100

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Adoption Quote

> "Our spiritual adoption in God's mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, and adoption so that the full range of God's glory and mercy and grace could be known by His adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning." -John Piper


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wisdom from Lewis...

"It was not for societies or states, that Christ died, but for men."
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thinking Politically, Biblically

It's worth noting that the words below, written by the apostles Peter and Paul, were penned in a political environment far more antagonistic to Christianity than anything we can comprehend in our day.

"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." -1 Peter 2:13-17

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." -Romans 13:1

"He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away." -Job 12:23


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kingdom Politics

We generally have tried to avoid direct commentary on politics, and especially politicians, here on our blog. But given what appears to be an increasingly un-Biblical weight that many American Christians attach to the outcomes of our political processes, and the all-too-often harsh rhetoric that precedes and follows our election cycles, we have read and decided to share the two articles below that we believe put these important matters firmly into the light of Gospel-centered truth.

Fellow Christians, the kingdom that we live for is not of this earth. We are seeking and awaiting the kingdom to come, or better stated, that is coming. If we are to take the scripture at it's word, we must rest in the knowledge that our God is sovereign over every appointment and every decision of every elected official everywhere on this planet. So let's joyfully exercise our precious, blood-bought right to vote our consciences without fear of reprisal. But once that vote has been cast, as believers in the risen and victorious Lord of Creation, let's put our lives and destiny in the hands of the One who said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to to me".  -Matthew 28:18

God bless America and God bless our President.

E & J

On God's Election of Barack Obama

By Michael Patton

I have kept an eye on what people are saying in my circles about Obama's re-election. Things don't look too good there. Fear, anger, frustration, and hopelessness are filling the thoughts of those of us who are supposed to have the most hope. There is no time that the sin of idolatry comes to light more than after a Presidential election. One person I know says that they are taking off a week of work to recover. Another says they are leaving the country. Yet another says this is the downfall of America. It is the end. The downfall of America? The end? Really?
It is hard for me to get too upset about these elections. Sure, there are implications. These implications extend to my family and my job. They make me look at the people in my country and think, "Really, is this who we are now? Is this what it has come down to?" Were I to place the full weight of my body (which is getting lighter every day!) on the chair of human achievement, I suppose I would feel less secure today than I did yesterday. But I don't and I can't. In fact, I found myself rejoicing once the results came in.
Obama is our president for the next four years. How bad is that? I suppose I could talk about all the issues involved, both economic and moral. I suppose I could talk about how much worse it is now going to get. I suppose that I could get ready for the most bleak outcome: increased unemployment, higher taxes, less pay, fewer donations to Credo House, waiting in line for health care, homosexual marriage, increased toleration for the death of the unborn, increased intoleration for Christianity, and a thousand other things. But this would lack perspective. Whether it is Obama or Romney, I pause and take account of this fact: I live in the most secure, free, and moral country that has probably ever existed. And we are a long way from giving up this title. Are we heading toward a "fall"? Maybe, but we are still a long way from the cliff. In fact, it is not even in sight yet.
But let us say for the sake of argument that Obama is the iconic president who will lead the charge off the cliff. Let us say that America is heading for disaster. Let us say that in ten years our teeth will be on edge due to the sour grapes that Obama is handing out. Let us say that Obama will be the cause for an imminent loss of security, freedom, and morality. What then? If we knew this without a doubt, what then? Is it then time to despair? Is it then time for us to rent our cloaks, shave our heads, and go into mourning? How could it be?
My favorite theologian and philosopher, Bono, once said in a song about Christ's death, "I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword. I threw the dice and they pierced his side. But I have seen love conquer the great divide" ("When Love Comes to Town"). The worst event in the history of the world is when we hung our Creator on a tree and let him die. We all went to the polling booth and said, "We will not have this man to rule over us." We voted against the very incarnation of goodness, righteousness, and truth. We held the scabbard of the soldier's sword as he killed our savior. Yet, while this was the worst event in the history of humanity, it was also the best. While it was a day for the greatest mourning in the history of the world, it was also a day for the greatest rejoicing in the history of the world. While angels gawked at the arrogance of man, they gawked more at the love of God. God drew the sword on himself that day. He was in charge. I held the scabbard as the King of Kings was unelected from office. Yet God's plan was that through evil greatness might be revealed. Have we not learned? Do we stand in the crowd in front of the cross with hopeless despair or with great anticipation and excitement of what God is doing?
We all stand in front of the cross on election day, not knowing what God's plan is. Will righteousness be delivered or killed? Will evil triumph or be smothered? Will we begin to heal or continue to be beaten? Who knows? But what we don't have the right to do is keep from rejoicing in anticipation that our Father is going about his business and he has something in mind.
Obama has been reelected. Please don't come down too hard on me as I rejoice. Me and my kids got down on our knees tonight and prayed that Romney would win. He did not. Yet, in a very real way, I am excited. No, I don't agree with Obama, his policies, his plans, or his dreams. Yet I have this really awesome Father who does incredible things like kill his own Son. I have this Father who knows what he is doing and is in complete control. I have this Father who elected Barack Obama as his man and you are not going to believe what comes next. Yes, it looks bad. Yes, there are a lot of people in this crowd crying. Yes, they are without hope. But let me tell you about the way he works. It is too cool.
I am in the crowd tonight listening. Dashed dreams and hopelessness are topics of conversation. But I can't join in. I know the Guy in charge of all this. And because I know his M.O., I will hold the scabbard with great anticipation and joy. God's will has been done tonight and I can't wait to see what he does next. Don't fault me for rejoicing in the unexpected and unwanted. I can't help it. This is Christianity 101.
"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." –Titus 3:1-2
Pray for my president that God elected tonight. I commit to loving and encouraging him. I will speak no ill-will of him. He is the man God elected and my arms are laid down. There is no authority except from God and who am I not to hold the scabbard of God's mission?

Sent from my iPad

"Christians, Let's Honor the President"

by Russell Moore

The American people have decided that Barack Obama should have a second term. And, behind them, in the mystery of providence, God has decided that Barack Obama would be re-elected. So how should Christians respond to our once and future President?

Many of us have some disagreements with the President. As a conservative Christian, I believe unborn children have certain inalienable rights, including the right to life, and I wish President Obama would work to protect them. I believe freedom of conscience is the preeminent right in a civil society, and the Administration's incursions on religious liberty are troubling. I don't plan to back down one bit on these matters, even as our forefathers Isaac Backus and John Leland relentlessly stood up to the founding generation of leaders on behalf of religious freedom and human dignity.

We are going to disagree with the President on some (important) things; there will be other areas where we can work with the President. But whether in agreement or disagreement, we can honor. Honor doesn't mean blanket endorsement.

I am always amazed by those Christians who will dispute the command to honor, arguing that "kings" in our system are the people, and therefore we're called to honor the Constitution but not elected officials. But the Scripture doesn't command honor simply for the ultimate authority (which is, of course, ultimately God, in any case). Humanly speaking, the ultimate political authority in the New Testament context was the Emperor. And yet, the Apostle Peter specifically calls the people of Christ not only to show submission to the emperor "as supreme" but also to "governors" (1 Pet. 2:13-14). The Apostle Paul calls on the churches to pray and to show thanksgiving for "kings" (plural) and for "all who are in high positions" (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Paul imitated this when he showed due respect to the governor Felix, referring to him with the honorific title "his Excellency, the governor" (Acts 23:26) and "most excellent Felix" (Acts 24:2), even as he appealed his way up through the political process of the Roman Empire of his time. Paul showed thanksgiving for Felix, despite his part in a system with which Paul disagreed at some important points, for his "reforms" for the common good (24:3).

Behind that is a more general command to "honor everyone" (1 Pet. 2:17), to pray for "all people" (1 Tim. 2:1). We are to not only pay our taxes but give "respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed" (Rom. 13:7).

Christians, above all people, should pray for and show respect for our President and all of our elected officials. After all, unlike those who see politics as ultimate, we recognize that our political structures are important, but temporal, before an inbreaking kingdom of Christ. We don't then need to be fomented into the kind of faux outrage that passes for much of contemporary political discourse. And, unlike those who see history as impersonal or capricious, we see behind everything a God who is sovereign over his universe.

So let's pray for President Obama. Let's not give ourselves to terms of disrespect, or every crazy conspiracy theory that floats across the Internet.

That doesn't mean slavish obedience. In a democratic republic, the President and the Congress govern by the consent of the governed. We appeal to our elected officials, and lobby them for the common good, expressing disagreement when we must. But we do this, as Paul does before Felix and Agrippa, with respect and honor, even as he seeks to persuade them of the need for religious liberty and as he preaches "righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment" (Acts 24:25).

However we voted in the election, let's pray for God to bless our President. We can pray for him to be granted wisdom and health. We can pray that God would prosper his good ideas, and change his mind on his bad ideas. Moreover, we can teach our children to respect our President, starting with referring to him as "President Obama" or "Our President," not as "Obama" or "the guy our parents voted against" or what have you.

There's a time to vote. There's a time to campaign. And there's a time to petition. But, through it all, let's be the people who, even as we speak with conviction, are marked by kindness and respect. When we have to differ with President Obama, let's do that, with backbone. But let's make sure we do all this with honor, with respect, with prayer, and, most of all, with love.

Let's render unto Caesar, as free people with natural rights. Because we know as believers that we will eternally say "Jesus is Lord," we can as citizens temporally say, "Hail to the chief."

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 6, 2012



Lily Gotcha Day - 1 Year!!!

Our long, long wait for our daughter ended one year ago today. It's difficult to find the words to describe how far we've come with our beautiful little girl. What began with so much heart-rending grief as Lily struggled to embrace her new life has become a wonderful, daily privilege of watching her blossom into a joyful, energetic, meticulous and huge-hearted little girl. We are unspeakably grateful to say that our bonding has grown by leaps and bounds and we've now come to feel like our family unit is very strong and at last feels "natural." Lily is a kind and affectionate 'big' sister to Izaiah. Her vocabulary has just recently taken huge strides as she is now speaking in whole (if sometimes broken) sentences and gets very excited when she's able to communicate effectively. She loves books, learning new skills and helping mommy with whatever she can.  She especially loves Bible stories and learning her monthly memory verses for Sunday school; hearing her recitations in broken baby English is youtube-worthy cute!!!! We are so blessed that words often seem hollow. We still sit on certain days and weep with joy that we have been tasked by our Heavenly Father with the gift of these wonderful children. 

Adoption is a God-given miracle of heart transformation that is available to all who simply hear the call and say "yes." Orphan Sunday was November 4th and we read a sobering statistic released by UNICEF that if just 7% of the world's 2 billion self-proclaimed Christians adopted just one orphan, that this statistic would be expunged and the world's 153 million orphans would be in forever families. So we must act, which can mean answering the call to adopt or actively supporting those who do. The miracle of being adopted by God into His eternal Kingdom is reflected on earth in perhaps no other way as when His people make the life decision to: 

"...bring the homeless poor into your house". Our Lord then promises that if we do this,
 "then shall your light break forth like dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily". -Isaiah 58:7&8

We ask everyone to please pray and listen to how the Spirit may be moving on your hearts in this area that is so intimately close to the heart of our Creator. It is to Him and Him alone that all the glory in Heaven and Earth is due. 

Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Gotcha Day Gift - Puzzles & Flash Cards