Sunday’s Hymn – Fairest Lord Jesus

July 18, 2010 at 6:57 am | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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Imagine with me this morning that you are singing in church and you are wide awake and truly glad that you are there. You are alive both physically and spiritually because of God’s grace. You are appreciative to Him for all He has done and forgiven in your life. You hear the piano, organ, guitar, trumpet, french horn, flute, and saxophone mix with the voices of the music team. The congregation seems to be singing louder and with more emotion too. You are offering praise to your heavenly Father who also is the God of all creation. What a joy to be praising Him.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-servant)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 50:23

John 1:14

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

 

“Fairest Lord Jesus”

From Munster Gesangbuch, 1677

1.      Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature,

Son of God and Son of Man!

Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor,

Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

2.      Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlawns,

Robed in the blooming garb of spring:

Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,

Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3.      Fair is the sunshine, fair is the moonlight,

And all the twinkling, starry host:

Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer

Than all the angels heav’n can boast.

4.      Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!

Son of God and Son of Man!

Glory and honor, praise, adoration,

Now and forever more be thine.

Book Review – AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church

July 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
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Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay. AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2010. 205pp.

Here are two leaders that have sought to find balance in what they believe and how they live out their beliefs. They have planted a church in Denver; it would seem by “accident.” But there is a method to their madness. Their struggles and victories are the basis for their story. It is an interesting read of how they found balance and harmony between being attractional and missional.

There is an introduction and eight chapters to the book. They use some basic graphics to help illustrate some of their points. On a personal level I would have liked to see some documentation, especially when they used the terms sodalic and modalic. They do give information on how to access Ralph Winters’ original article. But I would have liked to see some more of their research and documentation. But I think this book is more of a testimony than a textbook and that is alright.

Overall this book is a testimony of how God worked in Hugh’s life and how that transferred to the lives around him. The story of how God began the planting of their church on pages 45-48 is pretty good. I especially appreciated Hugh’s honesty on page 47 about God waiting on him. I am also sure that anyone who has been hurt or deeply discouraged in any church context could relate to the story.

The questions of “how to do church” and “what the church must do” (p. 26) have been asked for a long time. The AND is their testimony of finding the balance between gathering and scattering. They would also tell you that not every church should or could be a church like theirs. They allow freedom in the quest to know both yourselves and your community and then to find the balance in gathering and scattering. I thought chapter 6 spoke very well to this point.

I especially liked a thought from chapter 7. “…… if you try to start a church or grow a church, you often attract people who just want to do ‘church things’; but if you start with a mission, God will draw people together and church will happen naturally” (p. 174). I think every church planter and pastor should keep this in mind and teach it regularly.

Many people over many years have been trying to find the harmony of being “gathered and scattered.” This is not a new problem or question for church leaders. That issue has crossed many generational lines and probably will continue to challenge God’s people until Jesus returns for His Church. But Hugh and Matt share their testimony and present the Church with some interesting and encouraging material for us to read and learn from.

On a clearly personal note, they may have planted and are leading a church that is very different from someone else’s church and that is o.k., really, that is o.k. There are different expressions of the local body of Christ. God works in His children’s lives however He wants too. I may not attend a church like theirs, but I am glad their church is here reaching people I would not be able to reach. So I appreciate their obedience to God in living and serving how they believe He wants them too. Thank you for helping to build His Kingdom.

I would recommend this book to any church leader or potential leader as a helpful tool in learning more about being the Church and living out the mission of the Church in their context. A few differences or disagreements aside, I am glad I spent the time reading this book. It would be a helpful addition to any church leader’s library. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Satan Wants Christians to Be Unholy

July 13, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Simple holiness, then is the flag which the soul hangs out to declare open defiance of Satan and friendship with God, even as the devil strives to shoot it down. And here is the ground of that quarrel, which will never end as long as Satan is an unclean spirit and the saint a holy child of God: “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Persecutors often try to disguise their malice under the pretense of good works; but the Spirit of God looks through their hypocritical mufflers and knows the instructions they have from hell. God’s Spirit tells us that godliness is the target at which Satan levels his arrows. Of course there are more kinds of godliness in the world than on, but Satan opposes only the true one: “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus.”

Christian blood is sweet to Satan but the blood of the Christian’s godliness is far sweeter. He prefers to sever the saint his godliness rather than butcher him for it. Yet so he will not be too conspicuous, he often plays at small game and expresses his cruelty upon saints’ bodies; but this happens only when he cannot capture their souls; “They were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain” (Hebrews 11:37). What the persecutors wanted more than anything else was to entice them into sin and apostasy; thus they tempted Christians severely before they killed them. The devil considers it a complete triumph if he can strip away the saint’s armor and bribe him away from steadfastness in his holy profession.

The devil would rather see Christians defiled with sin and unrighteousness than defiled in blood and pain, for he has learned that persecution only trims the church, which soon comes back up all the thicker; it is unrighteousness which ruins it. Persecutors, then, only plow God’s field for Him and all the time He is sowing it with the saints’ blood. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, July 13. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers, 1994.

Book Review – The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards

July 12, 2010 at 11:07 am | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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Lawson, Steven J. The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing. 2008. 168pp.

Introduction

Here is a book about one of the best known personalities in American church history. It focuses on Edwards’ “Resolutions” and how he practically lived them out. The author presents a lot of research through many citations of works on Edwards.  Some of the books referenced look like interesting reads also.

The book covers most of Edwards life and gives insight into his thinking. I learned some things about Edwards’ accomplishments that I did not know before. Even thought there are numerous references the book is an interesting read. It flows well and keeps the readers interest.

Summary

The “Resolutions” and how they came about and shaped Edwards’ life are the basis of the book. Lawson does a good job of breaking up and combining the “Resolutions” into groups that have a similar theme. They provided the basis for Edwards’ quest for practical holiness. As chapter 2 states, they were the compass for his soul.

From the Preface we read that Edwards thought the pursuit of holiness was the key to his spiritual growth and that he disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness.  Edwards was also an intellectual genius. He graduated from college at a younger than normal age (I won’t say how old, so you can read the book) and then went on to earn a master’s degree.

As a recent convert at the age of 18 he began to write his “Resolutions” and they took him approximately a year to complete. Edwards sought to diligently pursue practical holiness, but in complete dependence on God. As I read the book I was struck by Edwards’ resolve to do what God expected of him and to trust God to do only what He can do. Edwards was determined to live for the glory of God.

Critical Evaluation

There were so many citations that at times I wondered what the author thought about Edwards. I wondered if there were too many references. Even with that personal feeling the book was an interesting read. The book made good use of the “Resolutions” and how they impacted his life.

From Chapter 4, The Priority of God’s Glory: The first resolution sets the tone for all that follow. In this statement, Edwards declared that the glory of God would be his chief aim and the factor that would guide all his actions and decisions (p. 65).  This thought or aim would be good for any Christian to follow.

Chapter 6, The Precipice of Eternity is very good. It covers both his use of time and the anticipation of Christ’s return. Edwards believed procrastination to be an obstacle to God’s glory. Delayed obedience is no obedience. Slowness to carry out a task dishonors Him. Thus Edwards felt he must do his duties as quickly as possible. But he candidly admitted that he struggled with procrastination (p. 99).

The book is fairly balanced regarding both Edwards’ diligence and struggles. Edwards does not come off as a super saint but as committed to grow in spite of himself. He was not afraid of self-examination as Chapter 9, The Posture of Self-Examination shows us. He sought to trust God’s Word more than his own feelings.

Each chapter ends with a challenge to the reader to put into practice what the chapter taught. I found the authors closing remarks encouraging and challenging. The closing words of each chapter were a good summary and challenge to the reader. I appreciated these words from the author.

Conclusion

Edwards was not presented as a super saint but as a wholly committed child of God. His personal struggles and self-doubts were presented well and balanced with the presentation of his strength of will to persevere. What if Edwards is simply a model of what a normal Christian life should look and sound like? What if any of us could resolve to live completely dedicated to the glory of God?

This book would be a good addition to any Christian’s personal library. It will help you learn about Jonathan Edwards and yourself. It will also help you learn about how God helps those who are completely dedicated to Him and don’t make excuses for their shortcomings. I highly recommend this book to any Christian who needs some encouragement on how to live completely dedicated to the glory of God.

I received a pdf of this book and will receive a free hardback copy for this review. You can purchase the book at: www.ligonier.org/reformation-trust.

Cross Cultural Worship Experience

July 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Hymn – The Lilly of the Valley

My wife and I were visiting a Korean Baptist Church this morning. The senior pastor is a friend of mine and my wife and his wife are friends also. We had this Sunday free and when we talked this week he asked me if we were going to come to his church. The entire service is in Korean and they have an interpreter for visitors who need one. We know very little Korean so we needed the interpreter. One of the songs this morning was The Lily of the Valley. We sang in English while everyone around us sang in Korean. It’s like a glimpse of what singing will be like in heaven.

There is much more I could share about the church service this morning. Our friend is a good preacher too. He preached from Acts 3:1-10 on a Proper Spiritual Diagnosis and Remedy. We were glad we attended. We also stayed and had lunch.  Yes, we like kimchi and we can use chopsticks. It was a good morning of worship and fellowship.

Thursday’s Hymn is changing to Sunday’s Hymn. I do like a blended service, but I am hoping to teach a younger generation the value of some old hymns. I hope you have had a good Sunday and experienced the presence of God in your service to HIM today.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 50:23

The Lily of the Valley

By Charles W. Fry (1837-1882) – sung in 4/4 time

1.      I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me, He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul; The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole. In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay; He tells me every care on Him to roll.

(Refrain) He’s the Lilly of the Valley, the bright and Morning Star, He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

2.      He all my griefs has taken and all my sorrows borne; In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower; I have all for Him forsaken and all my idols torn From my heart, and now He keeps me by His power. Though all the world forsake me and Satan tempt me sore, Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

(Refrain)

3.      He will never, never leave me nor yet forsake me here, While I live by faith and do His blessed will; A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear; With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill; then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face, Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.

(Refrain)

Coffee Review – Nicaraguan Maragogype

July 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Coffee Reviews | Leave a comment
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This coffee is from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (www.hemispherecoffees.com) and is described as a dark roast with lemon and chocolate notes. It is a unique smooth coffee that grows very scarcely in Central America. Many farmers have stopped cultivating it because doesn’t produce well.

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (HCR) was started out of work with Rosedale Mennonite Missions with a vision to assist coffee farmers and their communities. Many of the farmers live in areas of extreme poverty and the relationships between the farmers and HCR is a practical way to help the farmers and their communities profit from the sale of the beans. In 2008 HCR worked to start a non-profit, Care Cup International (www.carecupinternational.com) to further assist the farmers through grants and agricultural consulting. In future blog posts I’ll share more about HCR and CCI, but I do want to encourage you to check them out.

Our first brew was with the French Press and there is a nice aroma that comes from these dark roasted beans. They have a deep roasted smell in the bag and after being ground. There is a distinct lemon flavor that spreads all over the tongue with a mild acidity. The body of the coffee is smooth and light. You really notice this coffee when you taste it. Two thumbs up.

We went with the auto-drip next and Kim remarked how good the aroma was when she came down stairs. Overall the flavor is well balanced and deep. There is a smooth feel and good aftertaste. This is a memorable cup of coffee. We would give it two thumbs up again.

Finally we used the Chemex coffee maker and there was a clean deep roasted flavor to enjoy. The taste of lemon was there along with a bittersweet or dark chocolate. It has a nice aftertaste and this is kind of where the dark chocolate comes out. As we sat down and talked about this coffee both of us simply liked the flavor we tasted. Two thumbs up again.

Kim liked drinking this coffee as she was eating some Asian food. It also tastes good with a chocolate oat bar. I made a cup in the single cup brewer and it tasted really good there as well. Both of us could say that we liked this coffee very much. If you have never tried a Nicaraguan coffee we highly recommend this Maragogype from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time, stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Thursday’s Hymn – Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

July 8, 2010 at 11:22 am | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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 This is a real good hand clapping, toe tapping song! Ideally the words can be projected so that people can have their hands free for clapping. We have sung this with many different instruments playing and at times with just a piano or just a guitar. It is a good song.

I may move the weekly hymn to Sunday’s and put a book review or coffee review on Thursdays. The blog is still developing and I have some changes in mind. I have to catch up on my reviewing responsibilities also. Enjoy the song and have a good day.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Isaiah 66:2

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

 By Elisha Hoffman (1839-1929)

 1. Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

(Refrain) Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

 2. Are you walking daily by the Saviour’s side? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Do you rest each moment in the Crucified? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

 (Refrain)

 3. When the Bridegroom cometh, will your robes be white, Pure and white in the blood of the Lamb? Will your souls be ready for the mansions bright And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?

(Refrain)

 4. Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin And be washed in the blood of the Lamb; There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean; Oh, be washed in the blood of the Lamb.

 (Refrain)

On Taking Too Much for Granted

July 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer – On Taking Too Much for Granted

There is a danger that we take Christ for granted. We “suppose” that because we hold New Testament beliefs we are therefore New Testament Christians; but it does not follow. The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.

We may assume that salvation is possible without repentance…………

We are also in danger of assuming the value of religion without righteousness…….

We may also erroneously assume that we can experience justification without transformation. Justification and regeneration are not the same; they may be thought apart in theology but they can never be experienced apart in fact…….

Again, we may go astray by assuming that we can do spiritual work without spiritual power…..

David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor…… The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians……. The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds.

Without exhausting the list of things wrongly taken for granted I would mention on more: Millions take for granted that it is possible to live for Christ without first having died with Christ. This is a serious error and we dare not leave it unchallenged.

The victorious Christian has known two lives. The first was his life in Adam which was motivated by the carnal mind and can never please God in any way. It can never be converted; it can only die (Romans 8:5-8).

The second life of the Christian is his new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-14). To live a Christian life with the life of Adam is wholly impossible. Yet multitudes take for granted that it can be done and go on year after year in defeat. And worst of all they accept this half-dead condition as normal.

For our own soul’s sake, let’s not take too much for granted. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 63-66.

Tozer gives us something to think about doesn’t he?

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer),

Romans 15:13; Isaiah 66:2

Judgement of the Nation

July 6, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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 Wisdom from William Gurnall – Judgment of the Nation

Even when the righteous are men beloved of God like Noah and Daniel, sometimes God still denies bail for a people under the arrest of His judgment. Jeremiah, for instance, boldly testified against the sins of the times and interceded in earnest prayer for the people; but he could not convert them by preaching or divert God’s wrath by praying. Finally the Jews asked him not to prophesy against them any more and God commanded him to stop praying for the nation.

Judgment hovered like an eagle closing in on her prey. And the only thing that eased Jeremiah’s heart, swollen with grief for Israel’s sins, was his memory of sincerity to God and man: “Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them” (Jeremiah 18:20). It is as if he had said, “Lord, I cannot make this rebellious generation repent of their sins, and I cannot make this rebellious generation repent of their sins, and I cannot seem to prevail with You to reverse Your decree of punishment; but I have been faithful in my place both to You and to them.”

On the contrary, horror and a terrified spirit is the portion of hypocrites in seasons of judgments. Pashur, for example, was a bitter enemy of Jeremiah and of the prophet’s message from God. He put in long efforts to soothe the king with vain hope of golden days just ahead. And all this against the Word of the Lord at the mouth of Jeremiah! When the storm began to fall in torrents of judgment, Jeremiah tore away all such imaginary shelter by telling Pashur he would carry a personal brand of God’s anger, besides sharing in the common calamity of the people (Jeremiah 20).

Sincerity strengthens the Christian deprived of the chance to serve God. If a servant of Christ could choose any affliction, he would select everything else before he would endure the pain of being a broken instrument, unserviceable to God. A devoted servant values his life by the opportunities he has to glorify God. – Taken from The Christian In Complete Armour, July 4; edited by James S. Bell, Jr., Moody Publishers.

Review – Travel Mugs

July 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Coffee Travel Mug Reviews | 2 Comments
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We have practiced recycling for a long time, even before it was the cool thing to do. That is one of the reasons we use travel mugs. We spotted a unique eco friendly travel mug at one of the local stores we go to and thought it would be neat to try one out.

We received two porcelain mugs from Décor Craft Inc. (www.dcigift.com) to use and review. The white mug is called “I am not a paper cup…” and the green one is a color eco cup. Both of them have silicon lids that go with them. We used both of them several times to get an idea of how they were before reviewing them.

The “I am not a paper cup…” holds 10 ounces of liquid. It is a double walled insulated cup so it does keep your coffee hot and is not too hot to hold. It does get a little hot at the top but is comfortable. Kim thought the lid had a rubbery taste and smell even after a few cleanings. There are directions on the package on how to take away the smell and she followed them, but they didn’t help much. She soaked it in a 10% bleach/water solution and that seemed to help. I didn’t think there was much of rubbery smell or taste. The lid fits well and there was no problem with leaks when we used it.

The green eco cup is pretty cool looking and it holds 16 ounces of liquid. It is single walled and comes with a silicone sleeve that is to be used with it. This cup gets very hot when you put hot coffee into it. It also comes with warnings that it is not to be used without the silicone sleeve and is not for use by children under 8 years old. You really have to be careful when using this cup and I’m not sure I would let anyone younger than a teen use it. That being said if you use the silicone sleeve it is safe and it does hold the coffee’s heat well. The lid fits well and we had no problem with leaks. Kim thought the lid smelled and tasted rubbery, but she cleaned it the same way as the other lid and that took care of the problem. I didn’t have a problem with the lid’s smell or taste.

These cups are attention getters. We took them with us to one of our favorite coffee shops and they generated conversation among the employees and some customers. They look good and people notice them. They keep coffee hot and don’t leak. They are also eco friendly and we haven’t had a problem with getting them filled in coffee shops. If you want something that is pretty cool looking and will help the environment at the same time these cups are for you.

We use both of these cups on a regular basis now. Using these cups when we visit our favorite coffee shops helps us do our part in cutting down the use of both paper cups and sleeves. We received these cups for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time remember to stop and enjoy the coffee and conversation…and this time help the environment a little too.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

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