OYB January 31

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 12:14-50, Exodus 13:1-15
NT: Matthew 20:29-34, Matthew 21:1-22
Ps: Psalm 25:16-22
Pr: Proverbs 6:12-15

Today´s notable verse:

21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Matthew 21:21-22 (NIV)

Seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Why is it so tough, though, in practical application? "If you have faith and do not doubt..."; "If you believe..." I am struck at how weak and pathetic we are, that cannot tap into this simple principle - but then, that is the key to allowing Christ in us to operate, isn't it?

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - ...How about you? Are there some goals and resolutions for 2006 that you feel like you might be behind on? Do you agree that reading from God's Word each day and growing in your love relationship with God is more important than those goals and resolutions?

You know, I've not set "New Year's" resolutions in a long time. My thinking is, if I decide I need to make a change in my life, or accomplish something, why should I wait until what is essentially an arbitrary day to start? "Now is the day of salvation; now is the time of God's favor" (I Corinthians 6:2). "[Make] the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:16). I think that reading the Word each day and growing in my relationship with God are extremely important in part because they help reveal those changes in my life I need to make, and those things that I need to accomplish, according to God's plan and will for my life.

OYB January 30

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 10, Exodus 11, Exodus 12:1-13
NT: Matthew 20:1-28
Ps: Psalm 25:1-15
Pr: Proverbs 6:6-11

Today´s notable verse:

Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember be, for you are good, O Lord.

Psalm 25:7 (NIV)

Thank God that He is good, and that He chooses to see us not in our own sinfulness, but through Christ's perfection!

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on the lesson from the ant in today's Proverbs, how do you balance working hard in your life with getting proper rest and relaxation? How do you find the balance?

The balance of work and rest comes from the balance of three things: perspective, priorities, and discipline. I would elaborate, but I don't have time this morning. 🙂

OYB January 29

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 8-9
NT: Matthew 19:13-30
Ps: Psalm 24
Pr: Proverbs 6:1-5

Today´s notable verse:

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Exodus 9:16 (NIV)

God, through Moses, spoke these words to Pharaoh, whose heart was unyielding to the will of God; how much more, then, do these words apply to those of us who love Him? In Pharaoh's case, God demonstrated His power to and against Pharaoh. Praise God that, for those of us who love Him, He demonstrates His power through us!

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 19:29 (NIV)

Maybe I'm exaggerating when I think that I have given up some of these things for Christ's sake; but the greatest desire of my heart has always been to be a husband and a father. Words can't express how happy I was to have in my life the woman I considered to be my future wife - and to consider her daughter my future daughter; nor how humbled and blessed I was to consider that God would so richly bless me. But I know that I'm pursuing God's will for my life with all my heart, and in doing so, God will be faithful to give me the desires of my heart - desires that I know come from Him (Psalm 37:4). God's will for my life is so much more important than even these desires, and I will continue to pursue the Giver of my heart's desire, rather than those desires themselves. I know it's nowhere near what the 12 disciples endured, but in my own way, I can empathize.

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on the Proverbs verses going into debt, does anyone have debt-relief resources, websites or books you could share with everyone in the Comments section below? ...I've often heard that it is wise to tithe 10% of income and save 10% of income with each check that comes in. What's your reaction to this type of formula?

Being an engineer-type, I'm all for formulas; however, I believe God is Lord of our hearts, not our calculators. Certainly, the tithe is a well-established principle (and one to which I can attest personally); however, our giving (and our financial management in general) must come from a right attitude.

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

II Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV)

If we tithe or otherwise give out of a sense of "duty" or "following the formula" rather than out of a desire to bless the Lord who has provided for our needs, then what blessing will we receive from our giving?

But in answer to your question: yes, giving first to God, then setting aside some form of savings/investment, is wise. I'm starting a Community Life group on Finances at my church this week, based on Crown Financial Ministries resources, so I may have more to say on the topic over the next 12 weeks.

Texas Roast

Filed in Social Issues

If you're a coffe drinker (or even if you're not), support Texas Roast. Owner Jeff Schneider divesting himself from what has been a significant AdWords advertising relationship with Google, due to their censorship activities on their Chinese domain:

I run a small gourmet coffee company that does decent business on the internet, thanks to the reach of Google Ad Words. However, I cannot live with Google's decision to succumb to the wishes of the brutal dictatorship in China. So, as of today, my company has suspended all business with Google. This will have a substantial negative impact on my bottom line, but in some cases principle means more than money. As a veteran of OIF, I know all too well how valuable freedom is and I cannot support a company that helps to suppress it.

I would ask you to encourage any of your readers who might use Google Ad Words to take the same actions and send a message to Google. It is time for Americans to tell businesses when they have gone too far in compromising the most basic principles of freedom and make them pay a price for their actions.

I decided not to use either AdWords or AdSense once Google's political discrimination became known. Now, not a single freedom-loving person in the world should use them.

And, yes, Glenn:

...I think this will be a good opportunity for any GoogleAd competitors (Blogads, say) to snap up some of Google's business

I'll be happy to give BlogAds my business; I'm just waiting for the invitation...

OYB January 28

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 5:22-23, Exodus 6, Exodus 7:1-24
NT: Matthew 18:23-35, Matthew 19:1-12
Ps: Psalm 23
Pr: Proverbs 5:22-23

Today´s notable verse:

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6 (NIV)

I notice that David doesn't say that life itself will always be easy, or happy, or good, etc.; but that goodness and love - God's goodness and love - will follow him. Of course, this king who had written much of the past few Psalms about war, would know better than anyone the reality of life. However, as many of my experiences of the past several months have proven to me, life is hard, but God is still good. When I consider the fleeting nature of life - the good and the bad - compared to spending eternity dwelling in the house of the Lord, I find it much easier just to do what is right in the eyes of my Lord no matter what the consequences.

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on the topic of divorce that comes up in today's Matthew readings, please do share your wisdom / thoughts / books / websites / other resources on this topic.

Being still single, I really don't have anything to add with respect to my own experience. Having just gotten out of an engagement, the whole subject is still a bit difficult to discuss anyway. Today was a good day for us to read Psalm 23.

Domestic: The New International

Filed in PoliticsTags: Media Bias, War on Terror

Spying. Eavesdropping. Surveillance. Warrantless Searches. What do all these terms have in common? The MSM continually insist on describing these activities, with respect to the much-aligned NSA program of intercepting calls originating outside the US by known al qaeda aperatives, as being "domestic" - every single time. When challenged about this terminology, the MSM seems confused as to why calls from one country to another are "international":

Q Back to the NSA. The White House last night put out paper backing up its claims that this was a terrorist surveillance program, saying the charges of domestic spying — you defined what “domestic” meant. Isn’t one end of that phone call on domestic soil? Why is the charge of it being domestic spying so far off?

MR. McCLELLAN: For the same reasons that a phone call from someone inside the United States to someone outside the United States is not a domestic call. If you look at how that is billed on your phone records, it’s billed as an international call, it is charged the international rate. And so that’s the best way to sum that up. Because one communication within this surveillance has to be outside of the United States. That means it’s an international communication, for the very reason I just said.

(Emphasis added by source)

(HT: Allman's Electric Stove)

For the terminologically challenged, I offer the following entries from dictionary.com:

do·mes·tic
adj.

  1. Of or relating to the family or household: domestic chores.
  2. Fond of home life and household affairs.
  3. Tame or domesticated. Used of animals.
  4. Of or relating to a country's internal affairs: domestic issues such as tax rates and highway construction.
  5. Produced in or indigenous to a particular country: domestic oil; domestic wine.

in·ter·na·tion·al
adj.

  1. Of, relating to, or involving two or more nations: an international commission; international affairs.
  2. Extending across or transcending national boundaries: international fame.

Oh, but let's get back to the exchange, shall we?

Q Right. But one of the people being eavesdropped on is on domestic soil.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it leaves an inaccurate impression with the American people to say that this is domestic spying.

Q Why is that inaccurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons that General Hayden has said, for the reasons that others have said within the administration, and for the example I just provided to you. You don’t call a flight from New York to somewhere in Afghanistan, a domestic flight. It’s called an international flight.

Q Right, but –

Right, but... you're either an idiot, delusional, or intentionally trying to mislead.

I take that back; I'm guessing you're all three.

Real Congressional Reform

Filed in PoliticsTags: Democrats, Republicans

I have absolutely no confidence that, as currently arranged gerrymandered, Congress will see no meaningful reform. Why? Incumbency. Virtually every incumbent seat in the House of Representatives is safe. We have almost no real congressional challenges. Once an incumbent, always an incumbent - until death do us part.

The primary reason that incumbency inhibits legitimate election challenges under the present system is that congressional districts are so absurdly gerrymandered that virtually all districts are sufficiently homogeneous with respect to party affiliation of registered voters that an opposing party's challenger has almost no chance to unseat an incumbent. Without facing a real election challenge in a politically diverse district, incumbents become much more likely to succomb to the "Beltway syndrome" with each successive term.

Some may say that instituting term limits would solve the incumbency problem. For me, the jury is still out on that idea. But I have a better, and more eloquent answer that would both solve the gerrymandering problem, and help resolve the incumbency problem: require that ZIP codes must reside wholly in a congressional district.

The solution is simple, objective, and still maintains the proportionality of congressional districts. More importantly, as the demographics of a given congressional district change, so will the political nature of that district. As populations move in and out of ZIP code areas, district sizes will change, but such changes would not inherently favor one political party or another. (Though, given the current "red-shift" of the population from "blue" states into "red" states, and given the county-by-county election results of 2000 and 2004, the democrats may cry foul.)

I don't know the intricacies of how the ZIP code system works, but on the surface, it seems to me the idea might be viable.

Thousands and Millions

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Welcome Thousands and Millions to the OYB blogroll!

P.S. Shout out to Manchester! I was there during the Commonwealth Games in '02 doing mission work though World Harvest Bible Church in Salford.

OYB: January 27

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Exodus 4, Exodus 5:1-21
NT: Matthew 18:1-20
Ps: Psalm 22:19-31
Pr: Proverbs 5:15-21

Today´s notable verse:

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

Exodus 4:11-12 (NIV)

I am struck by the thought that Moses really wasted an opportunity here by appealing to God out of a desire to make excuses for and to rationalize not following God's command, rather than out of a sense of humility toward his own ability. God still used Moses, to be sure - but what potential was lost for God to demonstrate His power through Moses even more? Even so, I love God's response: I created your senses; am I not capable of using them for my purposes? Also, how often do I rely on God to help me speak and to teach me what to say in the circumstances in which I find myself daily?

19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)

What an amazing declaration of the power of but two believers standing in faith on God's will!

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - With my thoughts above on the serious topic of sexual sin - does anyone have any resources, books, websites, that you can recommend to folks that are struggling with sexual temptation or sin? Have you seen people in your life be enslaved to sexual sin? Hopefully you have also seen people also be freed from that enslavement through Jesus? Do you think that sexual sin - lust, pornography, adultery, etc. - is a rampant issue in our society today? Do you think it's worse now than the past? Or do you think sexual sin has always been an issue in the past and will be until Jesus returns again?

There are a lot of great books out there - some of which I'll review when I get the opportunity. Sin is sin, to be sure - and all sin enslaves just as Christ redeems us from all sin. Yet, sexual sin is given special treatment in the Bible, since we sin against ourselves, and against the Spirit, since our bodies our His temple. Sex is so pervasive in our society today, but I think that sexaul sin has always been as rampant, if not always openly so. Consider that polygamy - as adultery, a form of sexual sin - was one of the first sins recorded in the Bible for Cain's line of descent (Lamech), and sexual depravity was almost always indicative of the most perverse civilizations (e.g. Sodom). Remember, there is nothing new under the sun! Satan isn't inventing new sins; just new ways to tempt and ensnare us in those sins.

To Take Up His Cross

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Yesterday's OYB reading led me to ask the question:

A thought occurs to me: what, exactly, does Jesus mean here by “cross”? What is it that we must take up in order to follow Him? I understand the denial of self, but what of the cross? The cross is a burden, a punishment, a symbol of sin; but do these things represent what Jesus calls us to “take up” in order to follow Him? Aren’t these the very things we give up to Him - the things He took upon Himself for us? So, if not these things, then what?

Commenter John responded:

16:24 Now the Lord Jesus plainly states what is involved in being His disciple: denial of self, cross-bearing, and following Him. To deny self is not the same as self-denial; it means to yield to His control so completely that self has no rights whatever. To take up the cross means the willingness to endure shame, suffering, and perhaps martyrdom for His sake; to die to sin, self, and the world. To follow Him means to live as He lived with all that involves of humility, poverty, compassion, love, grace, and every other godly virtue.

MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

(Emphasis added)

Interesting thought; this commentary seems to say that for one to "take up his cross" really means to take up the Cross of Christ. That is, we take on the same suffering Christ endured and die to the very things for which Christ died. What an interesting paradigm: Christ died for our sins, so likewise we die to our sins. Christ suffered for our sins so that we might live; likewise we suffer for the cause of Christ, that Christ may be glorified in our lives. Christ endured the pain, suffering, and punishment for our sins; we allow our own sinful nature to be changed into His likeness, and our iniquities to be eradicated and replaced with His Spirit. He chose to endure all in order to fulfill and perfect our faith; we choose to throw off every sin and hindrance that sets itself against us and we choose to have faith in the one who conquored that sin and shame.

You know, we really do get the good end of this deal!