Are you praying for more of the presence?

June 15, 2011

“Pray daily for a great outpouring of the Spirit on the Church and on the world. This is the grand need of the day—it is the thing that we need far more than money, machinery, and men. The “company of preachers” in Christendom is far greater than it was in the days of Paul; but the actual spiritual work done in the earth, in proportion to the means used, is undoubtedly far less. We need more of the presence of the Holy Spirit—more in the pulpit, and more in the congregation—more in the pastoral visit, and more in the school. Where He is, there will be life, health, growth, and fruitfulness. Where He is not—all will be dead, tame, formal, sleepy, and cold. Then let everyone who desires to see an increase of pure and undefiled religion, pray daily for more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in every branch of the visible Church of Christ.” — J.C. Ryle

I can be conflicted on this. Often, I feel parched for the Holy Spirit and cry out to be refreshed by the waters of his presence in my life. But sometimes, I can survey the thirsty condition of my soul and think “God is sovereign. If he wanted to flow over me like a mighty river, nothing I could do would stop the flood.”

If we’re dry, is it because of our lack of desire? Is the Lord waiting for us to lift up our voices? Do we have unreasonable and unbiblical ideas of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Recent discovery solves one of childhood’s greatest mysteries

May 24, 2011

I read a lot of Archie comic books growing up. Something about the lives of these Riverdale teens was so fascinating to me.

In hindsight, it probably had to do with the fact that young guys actually talked to pretty teenaged girls. That was a frustrating impossibility to the shy younger version of myself.

But while the comic antics were entertaining, they also portrayed a situation that was utterly mystifying. How could Archie be so smitten with the aloof Veronica, while blind to the equally attractive Betty? For crying out loud, they were drawn exactly the same, except for hair color! How could Archie ignore Betty in edition after enigmatic edition of the comic?

The riddle that had long plagued me was solved when I happened upon this tantalizing clue recently:

Archie didn’t pursue a relationship with Betty because she was already going steady with Jesus!

Suddenly, Archie’s avoidance of Betty made sense. Even though he was very popular, there was no way he was going to compete with the King of Kings!

If you find this revelation to be perplexing, here’s a little back story. Al Hartley, who wrote and drew Archie comic books, became a Christian in 1967. Five years later, he convinced his publisher to allow him to create a Christian version of the popular characters of Riverdale. Based on the huge success of Hartley’s prior work creating a comic book adaptation of “The Cross and the Switchblade,” Archie president John Goldwater licensed the cartoon teens to Spire Comics who created 19 editions over the next 10 years.

To today’s readers, the religious comics seem a little cheesy. Okay, a lot cheesy. But how cool is it that Hartley, an artist at the top of his game, worked to use his gifts to share the Gospel in such a visible manner.

Are there other examples of faith-based comics in circulation today?

HT: Comics Alliance

Jukebox: The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)

May 23, 2011

“The Sound (John Perkin’s Blues) is a very important song for us as a band. I see so much hatred and fear around me, I see so many people living out their pain. I hear it on the radio. I see it in the headlines. John Perkin’s story needs to be heard. This song was inspired by a man who sang a louder song than hatred. In a world where we are defined by our differences, Mr. Perkin’s life of service and compassion is a tangible demonstration of what it means to live a life of love. Love is the loudest song we could sing. Louder than racism. Louder than fear. Louder than hatred. John Perkin’s said it right, love is the final fight. We’re excited to hear this song on the radio, louder than pain.” — Jon Foreman, lead singer, Switchfoot

Seal Team Six vs Civil War Reenactors

May 19, 2011

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
(2 Timothy 2:1-7 ESV)

When I’m reminded of the call to be a good soldier of Christ Jesus, I like to think of myself as one of the Navy’s Seal Team Six, the elite military group that made news by killing Osama Bin Laden. They’re the best of the best … highly trained, super tough, and thoroughly committed to accomplishing their mission, regardless of how dangerous.

But all too often, I think I’m more like a civil war reenactor. I’m a weekend warrior with a homemade uniform. Sure, I’m putting on a good show, but I’m play fighting with a weapon that shoots blanks. Once the “battle” is over, I hop back into the minivan and drive back to my civilian comforts and diversions.

Truth is, I’m in a battle that never ends with an unseen enemy taking pot shots at me. I am a soldier, and so are you.

By the grace of God, let’s endeavor to be good soldiers. Let’s aim to please our commanding officer. Even when we run away from the battle, the Lord will find us, as he found Gideon hiding from the Midianites in a winepress. And God’s messenger will likewise say to us, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

Palace reveals that the Prince married a prostitute

May 12, 2011

Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian, published in 1520:

“Who can even begin to appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can comprehend the riches of this glorious grace? Christ, the rich and divine bridegroom, marries this poor, wicked whore, redeems her from all of her evil, and adorns her with all of his goodness. It now is impossible for her sins to destroy her, for they are laid on Christ and swallowed up by him. She has her righteousness in Christ, her husband, which she now can boast is her very own. She can set this righteousness over against all of her sins and, in the face of death and hell, say with confidence: “If I have sinned, nevertheless, the one in whom I trust, my Christ, has not sinned. Through our marriage, all that is his is mine and all that is mine is his.”

HT: Barry Cooper

Book Review: The Next Story

May 10, 2011

If anyone is qualified to write a book about a Christian perspective on the Internet, it’s Tim Challies. His blog is among the most popular websites for people of faith, and is always a reliable guide to faith, theology, church culture and the wider world.

His new book is titled The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Though other authors have explored the hazards represented by the proliferation of pornography on the Internet, Challies offers a much broader perspective on digital diversions and their impact on our lives. He frames the discussion about websites, social media, communication and entertainment to provide a prudent and balanced understanding of the opportunities and pitfalls represented by technological advances throughout history.

One viewpoint I found particularly helpful was his opinion that digital media can be a temptation in and of itself, but also can be an enabler of other temptations. For example, a man who fuels his lustful thoughts with lurid images can connect with an avalanche of pornography online. In the same way, a woman who fails to exercise self-control in terms of use of finances finds a wide, paved highway to overspending simply by launching her web browser.

The Next Story should prove to be an invaluable resource to families and churches who want to learn how to own electronic gadgets rather than being owned by them. Chapters include useful questions and application sections that will facilitate discussion and reflection, and key takeaways are summarized at the end of the book. As a father, I’m looking forward to exploring many of the enclosed concepts with my children.

Are you ever nagged by a suspicion that the Internet, cell phones and other digital technologies are having an unhealthy impact on your life?
The publisher provided a complimentary review copy of this book. In turn, I provided the above review.

An uppercut from the Almighty

May 4, 2011

“God’s plan A is humility, God’s plan B is humiliation. To be proud is to pick a fight with God.”

— James MacDonald