Archive for December, 2012

  1. Through the Word in 2013

    Posted on December 31st, 2012 by David Burnette

    1539 Great BibleOf the many things you could do in 2013, it’s hard to think of anything more spiritually beneficial than reading God’s Word and being changed by it. With that goal, a Bible Reading Plan for the year can be extremely helpful to give some structure for this critical spiritual discipline.

    In terms of Bible Reading Plans, it’s tough to improve on the comprehensive list provided by Justin Taylor. You can check that out here. Of the many short summaries of these excellent plans, here’s one worth highlighting:

    Product Details“George Guthrie’s “Read the Bible for Life Chronological Bible Reading Plan” is takes you through the whole Bible in the basic order of events, with a reading each day. There’s also a 4 + 1 plan (similar to the others, in that you read from four different places each day plus the Psalms). But it’s a semi-chronological plan, placing the prophets and the NT letters in basic chronological order.”

     

    For those going through the Multiply Material (or considering going through it), there’s a 24-week reading plan that accompanies the material. The Multiply Reading Plan is available here on YouVersion.

     

     

     

     

  2. Well Said…

    Posted on December 28th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    This time of year there are several people who graciously put together certain best-of lists that tend to give an insightful look back on the year that is now behind us.  It seems appropriate to highlight some of those lists in this week’s Well Said.  So here’s the Top Ten of 2012 version of Well Said for your reading pleasure…

    1. Collin Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories

    2. Tim Challies’ Top 10 Articles

    3. Denny Burk’s Top 10 Media Stories

    4. Trevin Wax’ Top 10 Blog Posts

    5. Kevin Deyoung’s Top 10 Books

    6. TGC’s Top 10 Articles

  3. Christmas Blues

    Posted on December 27th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    Listen to Dr. Bart Box describe an unusual issue that many experience this time of year.

  4. Well Said…

    Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Cory Varden

    1. Do You Believe in Santa Christ: In Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s book, In Christ Alone, he shares the sad reality that many Christians have a Christology that is more informed by Santa Claus than Scripture. Here’s an intriguing article from Ligionier unpacking this concept.

    2. Let’s Rethink Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs: Simeon the prophet never wished anyone a “holly-jolly Christmas” or envisioned anything about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. According to Russ Moore we ought to make sure that what we sing measures up with the “narrative tension” of the Christmas story.

    3. 5 Ways to Play With Your Kids This Christmas: During the holiday season, we’re tempted to spend too much time on our iPhones, on the computer, or watching television. Following our example, our kids isolate themselves too. We’re together physically, but no one is having fun. No wonder by New Year’s everyone is ready to get back into the normal routine.

  5. The Dayspring From On High

    Posted on December 19th, 2012 by Jonathan Lenning

    Every once in a while, perhaps most commonly during Christmas, we’ll hear the word dayspring.  It’s a bit of an outdated term, and today we would probably do well to substitute it with sunrise.  This is what is meant when we sing lines like “O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer, our spirits by Thine advent here” from O Come O Come Emmanuel.  But as the capital D implies, we are not merely calling for a sunrise.  As you can probably guess, it’s a metaphor for the Messiah.

    Take a look at the prophecy of John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, shortly after John was born.

    “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
    For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
    To give knowledge of salvation to His people
    By the remission of their sins,
    Through the tender mercy of our God,
    With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
    To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
    To guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:76-78, NKJV)

    From the third line on, Zechariah is not referring to John, but to the one for whom John would prepare the way, Jesus Christ.  Why liken Jesus to a sunrise?

    Maybe this is best answered in the Christmas context of the Luke 1 prophecy above.  When Jesus came on the scene as a baby boy in Bethlehem, He was effectively ending one era and beginning another.  Like the start of a new day, Jesus was the turning point that ushered in a brand new stage of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.  The promises about Him were grand, so His coming was much-anticipated, and rightly so.  And after what must have seemed like an eternal night, dawn broke.

    Zechariah’s prophecy echoed much older ones like those found in Isaiah 60:1-3, Numbers 24:17, and Malachi 4:2.  All of them point to Christ’s coming, and all of them speak of Him as a shining light that would bring salvation.

    So where does that put us today?  In one sense, we are very much in the same place, looking forward to Christ’s coming.  Unlike them though, we are anticipating His Second Coming.  And this is where, in another sense, we are in a very different place than the prophets of old.  While they saw shadows of Christ in the law and the sacrificial system, we have seen the light of the Law Giver and ultimate Sacrifice (Col 2:17, Heb 8:5, Heb 10:1).

    We are not waiting in the dark anymore.  We can see.  And to those who are fumbling around in the dark, we must proclaim, “The sun has risen!”

    “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:4-5

     “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”  John 8:12

    “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”  1 John 2:8

  6. Deliver Us

    Posted on December 18th, 2012 by David Burnette

    We normally highlight a book as a featured resource each week, but Andrew Peterson’s Christmas album, “Behold the Lamb of God,” certainly qualifies as an edifying Christmas resource. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can go here and listen. The album is creative and the lyrics are full of biblical content. Peterson captures not only the very earthy and human elements of the events surrounding the nativity (see “Labor of Love”), but he is also able to place Christ’s coming within God’s overall plan of redemption.

    The song below, “Deliver Us,” speaks to the reason Jesus came as it was announced to Joseph by the angel – “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their return from exile were only pointers to a greater redemption, a redemption that was at the heart of Christ’s coming at Christmas:

    Our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the Nile
    Our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand
    Our ankles bear no calluses from chains, yet Lord, we’re bound
    Imprisoned here, we dwell in our own land

    Deliver us, deliver us
    Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
    And gather us beneath your wings tonight

    Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
    These shackles they were made with our own hands
    Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
    So Yahweh, break your silence if you can

    ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem
    How often I have longed
    To gather you beneath my gentle wings’

    – Here’s the live version posted by Kevin DeYoung earlier this week:

  7. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

    Posted on December 18th, 2012 by Jonathan Lenning

    A classic hymn with timeless lyrics, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus encourages us to joyfully hope in Christ.  May its lyrics compel us to rejoice in the salvation purchased for us at His first coming while also shamelessly hoping in the glorious consummation of that salvation at His second.  Unlike the “hope” we have to pass tests, meet deadlines, and enjoy long expected movies, hope in Christ “does not put to shame” (Rm 5:5) because its object is Jesus – our unchangeable, eternal, all powerful, perfectly good, and faithful God.  He is surely the “joy of every longing heart.”  May we all long for Jesus with everything we have.

    Come, Thou long expected Jesus
    Born to set Thy people free;
    From our fears and sins release us,
    Let us find our rest in Thee.
    Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
    Hope of all the earth Thou art;
    Dear Desire of every nation,
    Joy of every longing heart.

  8. The Reality of the Incarnation

    Posted on December 17th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    Pastor David explains how extraordinary the incarnation truly is and how it serves as the one of the major stumbling blocks to Christianity.  Have you stopped this Christmas season to truly contemplate the astounding miracle of God taking on flesh in the incarnation?

  9. Unreached

    Posted on December 17th, 2012 by Jonathan Lenning

    Jat, Muslim of Pakistan

    Population:  29,768,000

    Language:  Punjabi, Western

    Religion:  Islam

    %Christian/%Evangelical:  0.00%/0.00%

    Persecution Rank:  10

    The Jat people are one of the most prosperous groups in India on a per-capita basis (Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat are the wealthiest of Indian states). Haryana has the largest number of rural crorepatis (similar to “millionaires”) in India, all of whom are Jats.

    Traditionally, Jats have dominated as the political class in Haryana and Punjab. A number of Jat people belonging to the political classes have produced many political leaders, including the 6th Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.

    In 1931, the date of the last census of the British Raj before the abolition of caste, they were distributed throughout North India, mostly in the Punjab and Rajputana. Today, the largest population centre is located in the Punjab region, Haryana and Rajasthan; there are smaller distributions across the world, due to the large immigrant diaspora. In the immigrant diaspora major populations centers include the U.K., U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, Belgium and Australia. The Association of Jats of America (AJATA) is the main Jat people organization of North America. It serves as the main body, forum and lobby for Jat people issues in North America.

    Jat people have a history of being brave and ready fighters. They are fiercely independent in character and value their self respect more than anything, which is why they offered heavy resistance against any foreign force that treated them unjustly. They are known for their pride, bravery and readiness to sacrifice their lives in battle for their people and kinsmen. In the government of their villages, they appear much more democratic. They have less reverence for hereditary right and a preference for elected headmen.

    The Jat people are required to marry within their community. The joint family system was popular amongst the Jats, and large families use to share the same house and hearth. With the advancement of modern civilization, as people are becoming less dependent upon and less tolerant towards each other, the joint family system is going out of vogue. It was still prevalent in the less advanced areas in the 1930s. Jat marriage ceremonies are traditionally conducted in according with Vedic rituals. Widow marriage is not only permitted and practiced but is also a social obligation.

    The census in 1931 in India recorded population on the basis of ethnicity. In 1925, the population of Jats was around nine million in South Asia and was made up of followers of three major religions: Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism. Today there is a small group of adherents to Christianity, especially Jats living in the in UK.

    Prayer Points

    • Pray that God would send people to Pakistan to share the good news of Jesus with the Jats there.
    • Pray that the Lord would begin to soften the Jats’ hearts and that they would abandon themselves in humility before the King of Kings.
    • Pray that God would establish His church among the Jats and that they would spread the gospel.
    • Pray that God would be glorified.

    “Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!”
    - Psalm 67

    Information for this post was gathered from Joshua Project.  Check out Operation World for more information.

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    The Gospel and Newtown

    Posted on December 15th, 2012 by Cory Varden

    (Response from Pastor David Platt to the tragedy in Newtown, CT)

    As a father of four children, the oldest one in first grade and the youngest one born just last week, my heart has been profoundly heavy since I first heard of the heinous massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Like many others, I’m sure, my emotions have swung from sadness to anger and from shock to disbelief. Along with many others, I’ve found myself asking, “How do we respond to the story of a 20-year-old young man walking into an elementary school and in a matter of moments murdering 28 people, including 20 children? How do we react to such unexplainable horror amidst such indescribable grief?”

    Inevitably, many people turn to God. Leaders from every arena of public life seem to offer their support and prayers to the families of victims. People participate in candlelight vigils, assemble for prayer gatherings, and stream into churches for counseling. Yet these apparent outward attempts to turn to God are often accompanied by deep inward struggles concerning the reality of God. At one moment, we find ourselves turning to God, yet in the next moment we find ourselves wondering, “Where is God? Does He even exist? And if He does, what kind of God is He to let this kind of thing happen?”

    In the face of tragic evil, we naturally begin to ask two historic and personal questions—historic because they have been asked for centuries, and personal because they strike deep at the core of who we are…and who God is. Continue Reading