December 31, 2008

Looking Back

As the New Year approaches, most of us look forward to what we want to happen in the coming year. But before we look ahead, let us look back on this past year and what God has done in the year 2008.

For me, I know that God has blessed me immensely in this past year. Here a few ways in which He did:

1. God provided a way for me to attend Together for the Gospel and listen to men of God preach and exhort brothers and sisters in Christ to be more faithful and keep the Gospel the center of their lives.

2. God allowed me to meet my dear friend Christopher Hukkeri, a native missionary to Belgaum, India, and I was able to learn from him. Christopher has endured much for the sake of the Gospel and has strove to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ every where he has gone (I will be posting more about this soon). Also, see his experience with T4G here (You will need to scroll down to see his story).

3. God led me to preach my first sermon, based off of John Piper's sermon, How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice.

4. God has taught me through many different media, not least being books which I have been blessed with in abundance.

5. God brought my girlfriend and I together and has been growing us together for His glory.

Praise God for all the great things He has done and all He is going to do. I look forward to another year of growing closer with Him.

December 27, 2008

Meekness is not Weakness

I received this in an e-mail from my good friend Brad recently and thought I would share it with you. It may be a little hard to follow, but as Brad says, please just read it slowly and I venture to say that you will be encouraged and challenged. He wrote

I was reading in Ps. 149:4:For the LORD taketh pleasure (8802) in his people: he will beautify (8762) the meek with salvation.

I was struck with the idea that Jehovah would beautify the meek with salvation.

So I journeyed to Vine's Expository Dictionary on line and typed in "meekness". Please ponder these notions of meekness slowly and meditatively. If you read them too fast you will miss the beauty of this quality:

2prautes praotes (Noun)

1.) Vine: "In its use in Scripture, in which it has a fuller, deeper significance than in nonscriptural Greek writings, it consists not in a person's "outward behaviour only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.

Comment: Only God can grant this quality. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I pray for this to be wrought in us. Gritting my teeth and clenching my fists; resolving with my great spiritual will power will not bring this about. Only God the Holy Spirit grants this.

2.) Vine: "It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word tapeinophrosune [humility], and follows directly upon it, Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him."

Comment: Meekness inwrought by God's grace does not argue with God about why they are in the circumstances they are in! Well that about convicts me!

3.) Vine: "This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect" (Trench, Syn. xlii).

Comment: Meekness looks at all those guys who are insulting us as blessings from God to make us better! Well that about convicts me!

4.) Vine: "It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was 'meek' because he had the infinite resources of God at His command."

Comment: Pastor Curtis McClain quoted something similar to this years ago in the Grand Haven Assembly of God (on the corner of Beechtree and Robbins Road) on a Wednesday evening service: "Meekness is not weakness but power under perfect control." It stuck, but again I am convicted that I have regarded meekness as "wimpy". It is not! It is indeed the fruit of power and self-control. Please forgive me God.

5.) Vine: "Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; It is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.

Comment: Not occupied with self? Is Vine serious? That about convicts me! Most of my waking thoughts are about me!!!

6.) Vine: "[A Christian] in his service, and more especially in his dealings with the 'ignorant and erring,' he is to exhibit 'a spirit of meekness,' 1Co. 4:21; Ga. 6:1; even 'they that oppose themselves' are to be corrected in meekness, 2Ti. 2:25. James exhorts his 'beloved brethren' to 'receive with the meekness the implanted word,' 1:21. Peter enjoins 'meekness' in setting forth the grounds of the Christian hope, 3:15.

Comment: Where is this beauty called meekness in our lives?!?! If I do correct anyone (which is rare) it generally is not in the spirit of meekness.

May our lives become meek so as to be beautified with salvation. Only the meek are free! The rest are imprisoned in themselves.

December 24, 2008

My Christmas Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for sending Your Son as a little baby to grow up and live the perfect life I couldn't. Thank You for how wonderful You are, how loving, gracious and holy. Without Your Son I would be nothing, the whole world would be utterly meaningless. So thank You for giving life meaning to me.

My prayer this year is that others would know that meaning and experience the gift of Your Son in their lives this Christmas; that they would find the real meaning of Christmas in the life and death of Your Son for their sins. Please lead them to Your forgiveness.

Glory to You this Christmas season. Hallelujah for what You have done. All praise and honor to You. In Jesus' powerful name, Amen.

December 21, 2008

New Post Series on Fear

(This is the first in a series I will be doing on fear.)

If there is one thing that is crippling to the Christian life and hindering to our service of the Lord, it is fear. Fear manifests itself in different ways, from petty anxiety to life-threatening terror. My goal with this series is to examine fear theologically, experientially and practically. I hope these posts will be helpful with dealing with fear in the Christian life and putting it in its proper place.

Please look forward for these upcoming posts.

December 18, 2008

Freight Train in Her Head

The following post is not directly related to Christmas, but I hope you find it edyfing nonetheless. My brother in Christ and mentor, Brad, sent me this in an e-mail awhile ago. I was grateful to be enlightened by his wisdom, and I hope you will be too. He writes:

I chased a couple Greek words around while reading about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42

v. 40:"But Martha was distracted..."

The Greek here literally means to "be drawn around". It is a picture of being "driven about mentally" (Strong # 4049); also another meaning of the same word: "to be over occupied; too busy about a thing" (also Strong)

The verb is passive, which means that she was being driven around by her circumstances not by choice.

How many times a week do I feel as if I am being driven and tossed about by uncontrollable circumstances outside myself?! I am Martha incarnate most of the time! Passively driven by forces outside my control like that feather in the proverbial wind in the beginning and end of Forest Gump. This is the picture of Martha...distracted mentally.

The word distracted in English is from a Latin word (dis trahere) which literally means "to be pulled apart" How many times have I felt that I am coming undone by the noise and dint of busy, busy, busy. Like Martha, I was actually doing a good spiritual work; ministering to Jesus and his church...but I was undone, pulled apart, dismembered, distracted, and inordinately over occupied. Driven, busy, driven, busy and actually equating it with service to Jesus while my mind, spirit, heart and emotions were angry at my brothers! (Martha was angry at Mary, see at the end of v. 40)

Truly Martha "was distracted..."

v. 41: Jesus said to Martha, "You are worried and bothered..."

Worried here in the Greek means: "to be troubled with cares"; (Strongs #3309) from a verbal form which means "to be cut in pieces"; "to separate into parts" (strong's # 3307) Have you ever studied a worried man (or woman?); They are troubled and divided up into a thousand fragments; Like Humpty Dumpty when he fell. "All the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put Humpty together again."

Bothered (thorubeo; Strong's #2350) means "to make a noise or uproar". How insightful was Jesus of Martha. Her head was in an "uproar"How noisy was her head? It must have been like that Bruce Springsteen’s song that describes the noise in his own mind as "a freight train running in the middle of my head."

Truly Martha was serving and doing what she was gifted to do, but she needed to quiet down. Tim Allen, in his show Home Improvement, would often say, "Back the train up!" Martha needed to learn to back the train up! Quit being driven by circumstances. Quiet down. Still the brain chatter while you are busy.

Mary was quiet. The Lord told Martha that her sister had found the "one thing necessary". (Wow!) and that it would NEVER be taken from her. Incidentally, why didn't Mary ever defend herself? Perhaps quiet people don't feel compelled to. Perhaps they know that God is their Defender. Even if she had, would a "type A" personality like Martha even try to understand anybody who was different than her? Busy people find very little time to attempt to understand anyone outside of their thought grid.

Feeling "pulled apart"? How about "troubled by cares?" Or maybe ceaseless and uncontrollable brain noise? Perhaps we can take a lesson from this story and find the "One thing necessary" that wise Mary found as she chose (an active verb) to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to His Word. Her head was quiet enough to hear.

Stop the noise and back the train up! First things first. God's voice is heard in quietness. Not in the earthquake; not in the noisy storm that rages in our heads; Not in the powerful winds that shake and toss us.

Martha and Mary are forever sisters. Serve like Martha on the outside, but let our heads be quiet like Mary on the inside.

More Free Music

December 16, 2008

Christmas Giveaway

Trevin Wax is giving away 10 free books and a free ESV study Bible. Subscribe to his blog to be entered to win.

December 15, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Growing up with a dad who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, my family did not always celebrate Christmas and when we did we had few traditions that carried from one year to the next. One that we do keep now, however, is that my sisters and I open one gift on Christmas Eve while opening the rest the next morning.

John Piper wrote in a Taste and See article several years ago about his family's traditions. I recommend you check out the article and the Biblical basis behind his traditions.

So, my question is, what are your Christmas traditions?

December 14, 2008

Christmas without the Cross

We've all heard the saying, "Jesus is the reason for the season." And many people, including non-Christians, realize that Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Christ's birth (hence the name Christmas). However, there is more truth in that statement than meets the eye.

Jesus is the reason for the season, but it's not just because He was born in a miraculous way. It's not just because His mother was a virgin, three kings travelled from the East to worship Him, or that angels announced His birth. Those are all crucial and extraordinary parts of the Christmas story, but they would mean nothing if not for Christ's work on the cross.

The Cross, not the crib was and should be the main focus in looking at the life of Jesus. He was, as a song by Christian artist Bebo Norman so eloquently puts it, born to die. That was His mission, His great purpose: to live a perfect life and die to take away our sins. Timothy puts it this way:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (1 Timothy 1:15; emphasis mine).

The Gospel of Mark clarifies exactly what is meant by "saving" in chapter 10:

"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

Christ came to save sinners by giving His life. This is what gives meaning to Christmas. Christmas would be nothing without the cross.

As we celebrate the Christmas season and think upon the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior, let us not forget His reason for coming. Let us all remember that Christ came to Earth as a baby so that He could save sinners like us through His atoning death. That is the Good News of the Gospel and of Christmas.

December 10, 2008

'Tis the Season for Free Music!

December 9, 2008

Free Grace?

Is grace really free? I mean, completely and totally free?

I most certainly and wholeheartedly affirm that grace is free for us, the recipients. It is freely given according to God's good will. But let us not think that this means grace is cheap. Grace was bought for a high price- the highest. Namely, the life of the Son of God.

We should never forget this important truth, but I think we often do. We act as if grace is cheap. We don't realize how much it took for us to be able to receive that grace. God sent His only Son, who was perfect, without any spot or blemish to suffer inhumane torture and punishment, die a criminal's death, and bear the wrath of God for our sins. There was, is and never will be anyone who deserved that kind of treatment less than Jesus Christ.

And yet, this was all for us. He took the suffering, the pain, the scorn, the wrath, and the death that each and everyone of us rightfully deserved so that we may be forgiven. He who was without sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). That is why grace is free for us who receive it.

May we honor the sacrifice that Christ made for us. He rose again and now offers this forgiveness to all who believe in Him. If you have not, please accept his gift that no one can earn or hope to buy in anyway. His gift that is free for us to receive.

And if you are already a Christian, please remember the sacrifice God made for you and never take grace lightly.

December 8, 2008

A Helpful View of Christmas.

Many Christians still debate over whether Christmas is a good thing or not, considering the commercialism of the holiday and things to that effect. Dr. R.C. Sproul gives a clear and well-reasoned voice to this issue in his post today. Here's a portion of it:

"Bah! Humbug!" These two words are instantly associated with Charles Dickens' immortal fictional anti-hero, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was the prototype of the Grinch who stole Christmas, the paradigm of all men cynical.

We all recognize that Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean person - stingy, insensitive, selfish, and unkind. What we often miss in our understanding of his character is that he was preeminently profane. "Bah! Humbug!" was his Victorian use of profanity.

Not that any modern editor would feel the need to delete Scrooge's expletives. His language is not the standard currency of cursing. But it was profane in that Scrooge demeaned what was holy. He trampled on the sanctity of Christmas. He despised the sacred. He was cynical toward the sublime...(read the whole thing)

The Star of Bethlehem

With the Christmas season upon us, I would like to make a recommendation for a movie to watch this year. The Star of Bethlehem is a documentary on what the Star of Bethelehem actually was according to the Bible. It is intriguing and thought-provoking. A must-see for the Christmas season.

December 2, 2008


Few things help me more than quotes. They are generally short and easy to remember while still conveying a staggering or weighty truth. They can be life-changing or simply enterntaining. But either way, I love quotes on all sorts of things- faith, life, prayer, etc. Here are a few of my favorites:

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
-John Piper

"God helps those who humble themselves."
-C.J. Mahaney

"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility."
-James Thurber

"It's better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."
-Abraham Lincoln

“Beware in prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do.”
-Andrew Murray

“It is not because things are good that we are to thank the Lord, but because He is good.”
-Hannah Whitall Smith

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is."
-Yogi Berra

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
-Sherlock Holmes

"I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them."
-Ian L. Fleming

"I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly."
-Steven Wright

Do you have any favorite quotes?

December 1, 2008


Today is AIDS Day- a day of sober rememberance of all those throughout the world suffering with this hideous disease. Please pray for the AIDS victims throughout the world.

To get a realistic look at AIDS, World Vision has posted these stories.

Let those of us in health remember those in sickness.

Whose Battle?

I attended church with my cousin this past Sunday at Valley View Church in Louisville. In Sunday school, we went over a passage in 2 Chronicles. Verse 20:15 really stuck out to me:

"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's."

It was exactly what I needed to hear because, lately, fear has been a great enemy of mine. I have been fretting over what I cannot control- the future, other people, events in the world. And really it's all irrational because God's in control and He works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). My hope is in Him, not in the world, or the stockmarket, or my lucky stars. And that's where I'm trying to rest from now on- knowing the battle is not mine, but the Lord's.

Are you struggling with any irrational fear? If so, I recommend you take the course of Philippians 4:6-7:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Let God take care of your worries. He is a big God and He can handle all your fears.



© 2009Mind in Renewal | by TNB