Thoughts to Take Us into a New Year

As we come to the end of 2016 and look ahead to 2017, I thought I’d share this poetic prayer from The Valley of Vision.

Year’s End

O LOVE BEYOND COMPARE,
Thou art good when thou givest,
++when thou takest away,
++when the sun shines upon me,
++when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
++and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
++in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
++leading me through a twisting wilderness,
++in retreat helping me to advance,
++when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
++with thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
++thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
++I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
++I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
++grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
++I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
++as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Most of the New Year messages we see offer wishes for health, success and prosperity, and that there be no troubles or sorrows in the year to come. This poem reminds me that, no matter what “If’s” I may anticipate in the coming year, my sovereign, loving Father has ordained it for my good, to sanctify me, and will take me through it for His glory. I pray that if you are His child, this will serve to comfort you as well.

christmas

 

Tips for Joyful Gift Giving

The Gifts of the Magi and the Gift of God

“And they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Is gift giving a joy or a stress for you? Why is gift giving many times so stressful, especially during the holiday season? We may find ourselves worrying about things like: “Who should I buy presents for this year? What should I get them? When am I going to have time for shopping? How much should I spend? How can I afford this??” One reason I believe gift-giving can be so stressful is that our materialistic, commercialized culture imposes so many expectations upon us. The Bible provides many examples of gift giving and gives us some ideas about the proper motives and attitudes of giving. Some of these may be helpful towards making the giving of gifts more of a pleasure than a burden.

Matthew’s gospel account of the Christmas story tells of wise men, or magi, who came from somewhere in the East (possibly Persia, Arabia or India) to see the Christ child and offered Him gifts. In this account we can see several things about the wise men and observe some lessons about gift giving: Continue reading “Tips for Joyful Gift Giving”

On the Eve of an Election Day

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

prayforelectiondayndop2016I’m afraid that many are going into this Election Day with fear and trembling. Some are concerned that our nation may never recover from the results of the outcome. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that regardless of how this election turns out, our Sovereign God is still in the Heavens, and King Jesus is on His throne. The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 40:

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales…

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.

Scarcely shall they be planted,
Scarcely shall they be sown,
Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth,
When He will also blow on them,
And they will wither,
And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

And with that I would like to share this article from Tim Challies, a Canadian citizen who has had to fight the temptation to fret and despair as he has witnessed what has taken place in Canada’s government. I hope this will help give some perspective:

Put Not Your Trust in Presidents

Happy Reformation Day!

LutherWhether or not you choose to celebrate the last day of October as Halloween and how you do so falls into the category of liberty of conscience, in my opinion. However, I think it’s unfortunate that so many Christians get caught up in and distracted by Halloween festivities, yet they ignore (or are ignorant of) the fact that October 31st is an important day historically in the church.

Next year will mark the 500th anniversary of the day in 1517 that Martin Luther challenged the erroneous, unbiblical teachings and practices of the church when he nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. It wouldn’t be until the following year that Luther really came to understand the important doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, as stated in Romans 1:17, “For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” He came to see that sinners are justified by God based solely on the work and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that we contribute none of our own righteousness to our salvation. The themes and focus of Luther’s preaching and writing from that point can be summed up in what came to be known as the Five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, and Soli Deo Gloria; that is: By Grace alone, Through Faith alone, In Christ alone, According to Scripture alone, For God’s Glory alone!

Many good articles have been written about what Martin Luther did and the results that we still see and enjoy today, including this brief overview which was published a couple of years ago on the Ligonier Ministries blog. Continue reading “Happy Reformation Day!”

The Zamperini Story: Shot Down, Locked In, Raised Up, and Turned Around: Unbroken

In honor of Memorial Day weekend, a time for recognizing and remembering those who have sacrificed their lives for our liberties, I thought I would re-post my review of the must-read story of Louis Zamperini, Unbroken.

I'm All Booked

unbroken-bookcoverUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.”


Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) took seven years and 75 interviews with Louis Zamperini to research and collect the facts to write Unbroken, which was published in 2010. The book is very well written, exciting and moving. It was clearly thoroughly researched to relate interesting and accurate information about the war events and the activities of the Air Corps. It also gives the reader some insight into what…

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Happy New Year 2016

happy-new-year-2016Happy New Year to my readers and followers!

2015 was certainly an interesting year, and unfortunately not only in positive ways. When we see some of the things happening in the world around us – politically, culturally, and socially – it can sometimes be overwhelming and discouraging. Charles Spurgeon made  a statement over 125 years ago that rings so true in our day: “This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot.”

This should not be surprising, for the scriptures teach that the wheat and the tares will continue to grow together on earth until the return of Christ and the final day of judgment. Continue reading “Happy New Year 2016”