The Courageous Chicken

Prayer_Sunset Despite having known Jesus for a number of years, I still find myself looking at many of life’s struggles with much trepidation {and not a few times, I might add}.  Why is this so after having studying the Word, after having seen God’s hand rescuing me and others countless times, after numerous reminders about who I am in Christ?  I’m reminded of one of Hawkeye’s lines from the show M*A*S*H when he is asked to do something both dangerous and in line with a position of command.  He says, “Who ME???  My insignia is a cringing chicken!!”
A huge part of the problem is that like many others, I fail to understand just how big God is, and how He wants us to access Him and His power.   That is when we begin to trust in our own strength, and like David, begin to count our horses and chariots to determine how well we are able to conquer our enemies.  This amounts to idolatry.  We may have initiative and persistence, yet a total grasp of unreality.  I am reminded of an old worship song called “Be Magnified”:
I have made You too small in my eyes
Oh Lord, forgive me
When I have believed in a lie
That You were unable to help me

But now, Oh Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong
And in my eyes and with my song
Oh Lord, be magnified
Oh Lord, be magnified

Be magnified, Oh Lord
You are highly exalted
And there is nothing You can’t do
Oh Lord, my eyes are on You
Be magnified, Oh Lord, be magnified

I have leaned on the wisdom of man
Oh God, forgive me
When I have responded to them
Instead of Your light and Your mercy
Jeremiah 32:17, 27
“Ah Lord GOD!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too difficult for You…Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
So, what is the answer to the problem?  WORSHIP andOBEDIENCE.  After reading the stories of God’s saving power in the Old Testament, one thing stood out far and away above anything else.  The people had victory when they worshipped.  They stepped out in faith and obedience to Yahweh, and THEN, God followed through and won the victory for them!  When two armies set out against the Israelites and King Jehoshaphat, God prophesied to the King:
II Chronicles 20:15, 17
“Listen all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat; thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…’”
A few verses later, the King directed his people to begin praising and worshipping.  This was the result:
 
II Chronicles 20: 21, 22
“Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.  When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir…so they were routed.”
Jesus created us for victory!  We are to sing songs to celebrate God’s help when we are in trouble.  Imagine what lives we can live for Him if we choose to worship and celebrate His powerful love all the time!  In the New Testament, Paul encourages us:
Romans 8:37
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
I am so thankful to God that I do not have to use my own courage to win battles or simply to live each day…all I need to do is place myself and the situations I face in His hands by worshipping and praising Him.  God is pleased with this type of intercession.  Some believers choose to call it “intercessory praise”.  And He accepts it, even from a cringing chicken, moving to defend His children and further His kingdom of love through them.
~ Denise Chambellan

On Wings of Eagles

eagleThe other day as I was driving, I noticed some sort of bird of prey gliding on the wind.  I’ve always loved watching this because it is so effortless and beautiful.  The word majestic has always come to mind.  They take a leap, and then trust in the wind to carry them.  For them, it is innate.  As far as we know, they do not comprehend the freedom that they have in relying on an unseen force to carry them.

When we trust in the unseen nature of God to sustain us and carry us, we are truly leaping in faith.  We are trusting in the intangible presence of our God to hold us up.  This act of faith is a form of worship.  How awesome to place our wholehearted trust in the one who formed the universe.  Is there anyone better in whom to place our trust than the one who commands the wind?  What joy and what peace we can have when we cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and allow Him to care for us.  How much more can we trust Him than even the birds of the air can trust Him (Matthew 6:26)?

Yes, the word majestic is appropriate.  When we worship this way, God’s majesty is displayed in us as an example to others of His steadfast presence.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint

Finding faith in the journey,

Ashleigh

The Sovereignty of God

 

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I let stuff get to me too easily. I’ve always been that way. I read or hear something that seems so short sighted, or just down right wrong and I can already feel my blood pressure go up. I feel the burn rise up inside of me and I want to do something. I want to react. I want to set things straight. I want to fix. I have always been the one to jump in a situation to help when stuff went down right in front of me, even when realistically I was helpless to do so. So, you can gather that when it comes to the internet with all of its social media and news, that I pretty much walk a tight wire when it comes to peace.

I’ve recently had to back off Facebook and news sites for a time. It isn’t so much of what is being put out there, but the amount of it. Facebook especially. We read or watch science fiction where people can read minds and it consequently causes catastrophe. But it seems that anymore, it’s not fiction at all. People’s thoughts, deeds, and actions are all willingly posted for the world to see and so much of it. I want to react. I want to correct the wrongs. Set facts straight. Change people’s hearts. I spend so much of my mind consumed by these things that I can’t hear what God has to say about them. Truth is I can’t control any of this and it isn’t my job to.

Sure, we all have our callings and our purpose, but those are ordained only by God. My actions, my duties are purely for what He orchestrates. My job is to be obedient. This bothers man and it is always the hardest to accept that God is sovereign. It is hard because we want to determine who we are, what we have, and what we do. We want God only when we are rendered helpless or want something bigger than the power we possess to get it. We treat Him like a giant vending machine. “God, here’s my prayer. I want ____. Now where does it come out at?” When the answer is not in our timing or the one we wanted, we become bitter or disenchanted with the Maker of the Universe. Some deny His existence at all. Throw all the theories and theologies you have out there, but what it all boils down to is that we want control.

I’m not going to lie to you. Accepting God’s sovereignty is sometimes hard for me. It scares me. It doesn’t feel safe. I have a hard time understanding it.  With all that’s going on in the world, I struggle to see where His control is at. People are straying farther away from Him. It seems so in this country. The laws of the land have become fueled by peoples lusts and selfish desires. Where is God’s control in all of this? The more I read the news, the more I become disheartened by the loss of morality and the increase in animosity towards God and those who follow Him. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and quickly.

Then I look up. As I watch the sunrise at its appointed time, I see the sky stretched over everything. As I look out the window, my heart calms and finds itself at peace again. I can see God’s sovereignty just by watching the sunrise….a perfect example of His authority, power, and goodness. Just by a word it came into existence and it has continued to rise and set at its time without fail.

Call me silly, but I can get a strong sense of God’s sovereignty when I look up at the sky. Looking as far to the East and as far to the West, it doesn’t end. It’s over all things. It witnesses all things. Just the sun is sure to rise and in it’s time set, God’s perfect order happens. Nothing we can do can bring it about or stop it. This can seem to some men horror, the horror of being at the mercy of something we can’t control. But those of us who know Him, or learning Him, we find ultimate comfort in this. We do because unlike the ways of sin and the world that produces chaos. God is fixed. Constant. Steady.

We can be the same when we place our hope in Him. We cling to him. We fix our eyes upon him and we’re still. We rely on His order that even in the chaos, His plan, His promises, will surely come in His time. We can be assured of this. I gaze upon the morning sky, never fully knowing the future except that God has it ordered, fixed and in place. It will be good because of His sovereign will that overrides all of man’s evil tendencies and selfish plans. Nothing in this world can halt Him or thwart His plans to bring His people to Himself. Nothing can keep Him from bringing about Good to those who love Him and call Him by His name, Yahweh.

~Janean

In the Beginning…

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In the Beginning…
 

One of the most popular cosmological arguments today is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It trades on the common sense notion that things happen for a reason. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The best explanation of the cause of the universe is a Creator God who created the universe.

The first premise of the argument should not be controversial. Ex nihilo nihil fit– from nothing, nothing comes. However, you might be surprised that people who understand the theological implications of this truth attempt to suppress it. In his book, God and the New Physics, physicist Paul Davies offers a theory of quantum theory of gravity in which the universe could spring into existence uncaused from nothing.

Although there is still no satisfactory theory of quantum gravity, physicists have a good idea of the broad features that would be entailed in such a theory. It would, for example, endow space and time with the sort of fuzzy unpredictability that characterizes quantum matter. In particular, it would allow spacetime to be created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused in the same way that particles are created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused. The theory would entail a certain mathematically determined probability that, for instance, a blob of space would appear where none existed before. Thus, spacetime could pop out of nothingness as the result of a causeless quantum transition. – Paul Davies, God and the New Physics, pg. 215

The phrases “there is still no satisfactory theory of quantum gravity,” and, “sort of fuzzy unpredictability,” betray a sort of blind faith typical of religious fundamentalists. In fact, Davies admits that, “The processes described here do not represent the creation of matter out of nothing, but the conversion of pre-existing energy into material form.”

A more promising attack might be on the second premise, that the universe began to exist. After all, why could it not be the case that the universe is eternal and uncaused? It turns out that this is both logically and scientifically impossible.

William Lane Craig presents a strong philosophical case against an eternal universe. If the universe were eternal, then it would be possible (at least in theory) to trace back an infinite string of causes and effects. Prior to the present event there would have existed previous events going back forever and ever. However, when we try to make logical sense of an actual infinite, we end up with all sorts of nonsense. Craig gives the illustration of Hilbert’s Hotel:

Let us imagine a hotel with a finite number of rooms. Suppose, furthermore, that all the rooms are full. When a new guest arrives asking for a room, the proprietor apologizes, “Sorry, all the rooms are full.” But now let us imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms and suppose once more that all the rooms are full. There is not a single vacant room throughout the entire infinite hotel. Now suppose a new guest shows up, asking for a room. “But of course!” says the proprietor, and he immediately shifts the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #3, the person in room #3 into room #4 and so on, out to infinity. As a result of these room changes, room #1 now becomes vacant and the new guest gratefully checks in. But remember, before he arrived, all the rooms were full! Equally curious, according to the mathematicians, there are now no more persons in the hotel than there were before: the number is just infinite. But how can this be? The proprietor just added the new guest’s name to the register and gave him his keys-how can there not be one more person in the hotel than before? But the situation becomes even stranger. For suppose an infinity of new guests show up the desk, asking for a room. “Of course, of course!” says the proprietor, and he proceeds to shift the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #4, the person in room #3 into room #6, and so on out to infinity, always putting each former occupant into the room number twice his own. As a result, all the odd numbered rooms become vacant, and the infinity of new guests is easily accommodated. And yet, before they came, all the rooms were full! And again, strangely enough, the number of guests in the hotel is the same after the infinity of new guests check in as before, even though there were as many new guests as old guests. In fact, the proprietor could repeat this process infinitely many times and yet there would never be one single person more in the hotel than before.

But Hilbert’s Hotel is even stranger than the German mathematician gave it out to be. For suppose some of the guests start to check out. Suppose the guest in room #1 departs. Is there not now one less person in the hotel? Not according to the mathematicians-but just ask the woman who makes the beds! Suppose the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . check out. In this case an infinite number of people have left the hotel, but according to the mathematicians there are no less people in the hotel-but don’t talk to that laundry woman! In fact, we could have every other guest check out of the hotel and repeat this process infinitely many times, and yet there would never be any less people in the hotel. But suppose instead the persons in room number 4, 5, 6, . . . checked out. At a single stroke the hotel would be virtually emptied, the guest register reduced to three names, and the infinite converted to finitude. And yet it would remain true that the same number of guests checked out this time as when the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . checked out. Can anyone sincerely believe that such a hotel could exist in reality? These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things. – William Lane Craig, “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe

If there cannot be an actually infinite series of events, then a series of events cannot go back forever, and the universe cannot be eternal. Philosophically, it must have had a beginning some time in the distant past.

Science supports the idea that the universe had a beginning too. It might surprise some Christians that some of the best scientific support for God’s existence is the Big Bang Theory. The name “Big Bang” coined by Fred Hoyle to make fun of the theory. Hoyle was a proponent of the Steady State theory which held that the universe is eternal, and hated the Big Bang Theory because it supported the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and so pointed to the existence of God. Today, the Big Bang Theory remains the best theory that we have about the origin of the universe. It is supported by multiple lines of evidence, such as Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the observable expansion of the universe, and the remnants of radiation left over from the Big Bang,

According to standard Big Bang cosmology, at one time there was nothing. By nothing I mean that there was no space, time, or matter. Then suddenly, all space, time, and matter exploded into existence. Given the evidence, we can draw two conclusions, Either all space, time, and matter came from nothing, or they were caused to exist by something outside all space, time, and matter. Since something cannot come from nothing, the second explanation is the only reasonable explanation.

The cause of the Big Bang must have been spaceless, timeless, and immaterial, since it cause all space, time, and matter to exist. It must have been personal, because it chose to create. It must have been powerful, since it created out of nothing. It must be intelligent, because it created with the greatest precision. This description (at least partially) corresponds to the God described in the Bible.

Since the universe is not eternal, the best explanation is that a supernatural, personal, powerful, intelligent Being created it. The idea that the universe began without a cause is ridiculous. This is not a “God of the Gaps” argument because it is based on things we know. It is not an attempt to explain things we do not know. The evidence points straight to our God.


~ Jared Abbott

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The Futility of People-Pleasing

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I am a people pleaser.  It’s not something I like to admit, but it’s true.  I want people to like me, and it nearly torments me when I can tell someone does not like me, especially when I feel their dislike is unfounded.  I dissect every conversation and social encounter I have because I worry I said or did something that may have offended or hurt the other person.  I avoid certain topics or conversations because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make them dislike me.
This is a very wearying way to live.  And frankly, it’s a bit of an impediment to my living within my identity and purpose as a child of God.  For one, I am not called to win people to me; I am called to win them to Christ.  I am to love them unconditionally and tell them the good news, regardless of how they may feel about me.
Furthermore, as a follower of Christ, it’s only natural that there is always going to be someone who does not like me.  As Christians, we must live life by a different standard than that by which the world lives.  We must speak the truth and strive to live righteously,  which may earn us favor with some but hatred and rejection from others.  Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do no belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18,19)
So what is a people pleaser to do in a world such as this?  I, personally, am slowly learning that humility is essential.  It’s pride and self-centeredness that makes being disliked difficult for me to accept, so it has been a prayer of mine that He would infuse my heart with Christ-like meekness and humility.  But I’m also learning that as long as I am loving God with all of me and loving others as I love myself, that whether I’m liked in the process or not is irrelevant.
~Alanna
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 faintdisI don’t really do reviews, but I wanted to review an excellent documentary I watched recently, Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Martyn Lloyd-Jones passed away before I was born, so I never had the chance to meet him on this side of glory. However, I have been listening to his sermons at for several years at MLJ Trust, and I have come to see him as something of a spiritual father. What I love about Martyn Lloyd-Jones is that he doesn’t fit neatly into a box. On one hand, he was a Calvinist through and through and known as a serious expository preacher. On the other hand, he was a revivalist who believed that the ministry of God’s Word ought to be accompanied by demonstrations of the Spirit and power. According to some in the Reformed camp, the charismatic gifts have ceased and no serious, biblical preacher can believe in their continuation beyond the apostolic age. According to some in the Charismatic/Pentecostal camp, anyone outside their revival tents is the “frozen chosen,” boring and dry. Martyn Lloyd-Jones did not dance to either sectarian tune. If he could be classified, perhaps he might be considered the last of the Puritans (as Paul Washer has said), since the Puritans strove to apply the Bible to every area of their lives. The Puritans were far from perfect, but at their best they were simultaneously earnest students of the Scriptures and open to the miraculous works of God in their midst.

What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.
What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence. – Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones,Preaching and Preachers

The spirit of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ ministry is embodied in the title Logic on Fire. The documentary portrays young Martyn Lloyd-Jones as someone typical of his time. Although he was raised in church, he was at best a nominal Christian going through the motions of Welsh Calvinistic Methodist churches. By Lloyd-Jones’ time the fire had been smothered. It was assumed that everyone in Wales and England was a Christian, and this was reflected in the preaching. There was no true gospel preaching–no conviction of sin, no call for repentance, no urgent calls to follow Christ as Lord. Instead, the preaching tended to be moralistic and sentimental (much like the preaching in typical American evangelical churches today). As a young medical student, Lloyd-Jones observed the inner despair of the rationalistic, often atheistic, star physicians he had looked up to. He also began to see that, although he could help people physically with medicine, the sicknesses of the soul were untouched. He began to realize that he himself was not really a Christian. When he embraced Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth, he was so radically changed that he decided to leave medicine and become an ordained minister. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was baptized in the Spirit and fire, and his preaching kindled a fire in Wales and England.

One of the highlights of Logic on Fire is that it portrays Martyn Lloyd-Jones as a flesh and blood human being. As you might expect, a good portion of the documentary is testimony of various ministers and family reminiscing on how godly a man Dr. Lloyd-Jones was, how he was a man of prayer, how he reformed the churches he pastored, how his preaching was soaked in the presence of God. Books and films about Christian leaders of the past often portray their subjects idealistically, as if they were nearly as good and great as Jesus Himself! Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ living daughters and grandchildren share stories of a man who hated to have his picture taken, watched wrestling (rooting for the bad guy!), and consumed large quantities of Cadbury chocolate.

I suppose if I were an actual movie reviewer, I would give Logic on Fire a thumbs up, or five stars, or whatever. In its portrayal of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life and ministry, we see that sound theology and the demonstrable power of God, expositional preaching and a sense of God’s presence, logic and fire, can–and should–go together.

~ Jared Abbott

40

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It’s here, the big 4-0…. I thought I would share a few of the things God has taught me over the years. You may find these helpful on your own journey. Some of these are only something I needed to know or hear. And well, most are definitely lessons I am still learning because I am a work in progress.

  1. I am a work in progress.
  2. Grace truly lacks a real definition.
  3. I am never alone.
  4. I have purpose.
  5. God’s Love is constant.
  6. When I walk in darkness, He is still there.
  7. The fastest way out of dark, lonely places is to surround myself with the light of God’s people.
  8. My love for others is more important than my need to be right.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Praying for others more than myself will have the greatest impact on me.
  11. Be flexible. Nothing turns out as you planned.
  12. Be Kind.
  13. Pray for your enemies, it is the most powerful form of prayer there is.
  14. Be an encourager.
  15. Good deeds are pointless when they have no purpose.
  16. People pleasing will kill you.
  17. Being a wife is the most selfless thing I will ever do.
  18. Sacrifice has many faces but in spite of what may be sacrificed, the reward is always greater than whatever I was holding on to.
  19. Fear is not from God.
  20. Shame is not from God.
  21. Justice has many forms but ultimately is in God’s hands.
  22. Asking for forgiveness when I am wrong should be my first response, not my last.
  23. Honesty has more power than our fear of the unknown outcome.
  24. People will hate you if you live your calling.
  25. People will hate you when you are getting it right.
  26. People will hate you when you are getting it wrong.
  27. God calls you to love all people.
  28. You will cry more tears than you ever thought possible, and He has captured every one.
  29. Grief is a different journey for everyone and the most incredible opportunity to find comfort in a living God.
  30. Busyness will distract you from your true giftings and calling. Be focused.
  31. Strength and Courage come from the power of God and my willingness to stand firm on His promises.
  32. Know God’s promises. For every battle, God has an answer and a plan.
  33. Being a mother will define you, break you, build you up and change you.
  34. Grace first. When I don’t know what to do, be gracious, be merciful, be loving and be kind. Everyone needs to be forgiven.
  35. It’s ok to let people go. Our greatest weapon is the power of prayer. I am not called to enable, be abused or be taken advantage of. I am called to love.
  36. If God has given me permission, there is nothing I should fear.
  37. Work hard, be willing to go first and set an example.
  38. Laugh.
  39. Have Hope.
  40. Joy is always with you when you focus on the One who has it all worked out for His Glory.

I’ve been walking with God since I was about 15. And there is a Psalm that has been a prayer of mine many days and nights. It reminds me I am not alone, not the only one who has struggled on my journey or felt far from God. But, He is always there, always hears us. Good or Bad, in spite of my self….

Psalm 42: 8 The Lord will send His loving-kindness in the day. And His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.

What lessons has God graciously taught you in your life?

Angela

A Response to Grace in Words

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