Thursday, September 18, 2008

More exotic wildlife

Apparently, the Hills do have friends. To add to the wildlife collections that I have mentioned before, some friends dropped off some other exotic birds.

Charis looked out the front door today, and saw these. She is still confused!

In the mums was a nice touch. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You need to listen to this

I recommend resources all the time, but I especially want to point you to some messages done by Francis Chan (and his wife Lisa). He is pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. The messages are primarily aimed at married couples, but as you will see when you listen, there is a great amount of benefit for any Christian. Francis loves Jesus, and it is evident in these talks.

So, here is what you do...
  • Go to the Cornerstone website
  • Click on "media."
  • Click on the quicklink "get a sermon"
  • Go to the messages preached on 7/27, 8/10 and 8/17.
  • You can download video, audio, and study notes.
Or if you are iTunes savvy, you can link to Cornerstone Church's podcast.

Great stuff. Seriously, you have to listen to these!

Great thoughts concerning preaching

In getting ready for a Bible study tonight from 1 Thessalonians 2, I ran across this quote by Leon Morris in his commentary on the book.
[Paul's] work was to pass on a message, not to produce some high-flown oration elaborately adorned with ear-tickling phraseology, nor even to give a simple message to meet the need as he saw it. The fact that this [meaning the phrase ['proclaiming the gospel'] is a favorite way of referring to the activity of the Christian preacher in the New Testament puts stress on the divine nature of the message. The gospel preacher is not at liberty to substitute his view of the need of the moment for the God given message of the cross.

Daniel and the next generation

Today, I had the privilege of sharing a message at the chapel of Red Lion Christian Academy.

As I thought of all the students, and all the potential of a coming generation, I was struck by some Bible reading I did several months back. I was reading through the stories of Daniel in the lion's den and the 3 Hebrew young men being thrown into the fire. Their courage and faith is staggering to me.

And yet, what struck me in those stories for the very first time is their preparation. In other words, God used them to stand before the king. But, before they got that opportunity, they had lived of life of discipline and learning that had prepared them for that moment.
Daniel 1:3-7
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
So, God used their preparation to place them in the heart of a pagan nation, so that they might make a strong statement of their faith in the one true God! It reminds me that God has many people in our OBC family who are good at a host of different things, who can use those things to impact many lives for his kingdom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That time of year again

I was on my front porch this morning, enjoying the beautiful cool weather. Although I know things like the weather shouldn't control my emotions, I don't think the Lord minds the happiness I feel when it is a chilly morning.

It reminded me that fall is coming (hopefully it is here for good). It also reminded me that while the seasons change, God doesn't. It also reminded me that every season marks another time period of life in which God has been faithful and helps me look forward to a new period of time where God will demonstrate his faithfulness again.

It reminds me of a great song...
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thanks for the patience

The blog has been 'offline' but not forgotten. I will be posting again soon!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The truth hurts...and helps

I ran across some verses in prep for Sunday's message. Then, I heard them referred to in a podcast I listened to.
Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The rest of the chapter is incredible as well, but I couldn't get over the truth of these four verses. I began asking myself all kinds of questions...
  • Am I seeking 'above' things or 'here' things?
  • Is my mind set on Christ? Or do I set my mind on all-things-Curtis?
  • Do I realize that I have died to a life of sin? Or am I still consumed by the guilt or practice of it?
  • Do I realize that my life is hidden with Christ in God? So, Christ is living His life out in me. I am hidden, so that He might be exposed.
  • Do I understand that my identity, my life is in Christ? Or do I seek my identity from my family, my friends, my job, my_____ and my ______?
  • Do I look forward to His appearing? Or am I pretty amused and consumed by things that are here?
  • Do I grasp that His return means a change in my existence from temporal to eternal? If so, am I living in line with the truth? Do my actions demonstrate that my life is not pointed to things on this earth?
Powerful stuff from what could be my letter Paul wrote to a church. I might change my mind tomorrow and claim 2 Corinthians as my favorite, though.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where is God at work?

In recent days, I have received emails from several friends who are making disciples throughout the world. So, what is God up to?
  • In the Middle East - God is working in the lives of government officials, granting favor to some friends who are seeking to open a community center.
  • In West Asia - God is providing grace to friends who are adjusting to culture and learning a language
  • In Brazil - We are asked to pray that God break the stronghold that false religion has on the Gaucho people.
  • In Ireland - God is using basketball camps to reach kids who have rarely been in any church.
So, yes God is at work, and not just in the 50 states!

The Lord is my shepherd

We sang a version of Psalm 23 this past Sunday. I ran across this article by David Powlison that talked about the "Antipsalm 23." It highlights everything that Psalm 23 promises, by emphasizing what life would be like if it were not true.

I'm on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing's quite right.
I'm always restless. I'm easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It's a jungle — I feel overwhelmed. It's a desert — I'm thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don't things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone ... facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can't really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I'm left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It's a living death,
and then I die.

Question three: Are you more loving

Part two of a series of blogs through the book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Intro, Part 1, Part 2).


Whitney begins the chapter with numerous Scripture references that make our responsibility to love one another very clear. He mentions that love "is the badge and character of all Christianity."

I found that this chapter had some powerful (and convicting) quotes:
  • "We're not growing in love when we have time for projects but not for people."
  • "You do not love others if you will let them ruin their lives, their testimony, their reputation, and bring shame upon the church and the name of Christ, and you are unwilling to rescue them according to God's plan from the sin that has deceived them."
  • "Many people are congratulating themselves for what amounts to merely being human, and they conclude that this innate love testifies of spiritual health."

He also suggests three areas where our love can develop:
  1. A love for other Christians - 1 John 3:14
  2. A love for the lost - Luke 6:27,32
  3. A love for your family - Ephesians 5:25

In closing, he gives several practical instructions concerning love. One that may be beneficial to all of us is "Identify those relationships where you most need to grow in love."

God, help us to be more loving!