Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Whatever happened to:
- neighborhood church bells
- a reverence for religious and national holidays
- special occasion dresses
- waiting until December 25 for a present
- a much anticipated long distance phone call ... for just a few minutes due to cost
- 99.9 % of stores and businesses closing for Christmas, Sunday, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.
- saying "Merry Christmas" ... instead of "Happy (generic) Holidays
- Christmas savings programs through your bank so you didn't owe on credit cards for six months past Christmas
- being content with whatever present you received ... instead of handing out a wish list
- driving to grandma's house for a family gathering
- meaningful Christmas music
- nothing remotely Christmasie until after Thanksgiving ...
- the real reason for celebrating Christmas ...
- whole intact families
It makes you wonder doesn't it!
Maybe next year...
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
The title of Jerry Bridge’s new book – Respectable Sins — pops with sarcasm. While confronting many obvious and blatant sins in culture – abortion, corporate corruption, homosexuality, bullying and physical abuse – the Church frequently misses the sins running rampant within its walls.
“The motivation for this book stems from a growing conviction that those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more ‘refined’ or subtle sins” (p. 9).
Later in Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress: 2007). Bridges makes this shocking statement: “In our human values of civil laws, we draw a huge distinction between an otherwise ‘law-abiding citizen’ who gets an occasional traffic ticket and a person who lives a ‘lawless’ life in contempt and utter disregard for all laws. But the Bible does not seem to make that distinction. Rather, it simply says sin – that is, all sin without distinction – is lawlessness” (p. 20).
Bridges begins the book with an excellent chapter on defining sainthood in light of the messed-up Corinthians being considered “saints” (see 2 Cor. 1:1). We are called to live as the “saints” we have been declared in Christ. The second chapter — “The Disappearance of Sin” — paints a strong argument that the Church is having a hard time defining and seeing her own sins. The third chapter – “The Malignancy of Sin” – sets out to reveal that sin is not merely what we do but who we are. Our sinful actions spring from our sinful heart. Sin is a “principle or moral force in our heart, our inner being” (p. 24). Bridges then gets into the Gospel as our hope. We can face and overcome sin because of the Cross and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. Bridges has dressed the reader for warfare.
The “Respectable Sins”
So what sins are “respectable sins”? Bridges’ chapters include the following topics:
- general ungodliness defined as a sinful attitude towards God
- anxieties and frustrations
- pridefulness revealed specifically in self-righteousness, even in a pursuit of theological accuracy, in prideful motives behind our achievements and revealed in a spirit of independence
- selfishness with our interests, time, money and inconsiderableness
- lack of self-control in eating, drinking and temperament, finances, entertainment and shopping - impatience and irritability
- anger, even anger towards God, and the underlying roots of anger in resentment, bitterness, enmity, hostility and holding grudges
- judgmentalism and a critical spirit over differing convictions and doctrinal disagreements
- envy, jealousy, competitiveness and being controlling
- the sins of the tongue like gossip, slander, lying, harsh words, sarcasm, insults and ridicule
- worldliness shown financially, by our idolatry and in “vicarious immorality,” that is, the enjoyment of watching or reading the sinfulness of others.
And Bridges says his list was whittled down for print!
Bridges’ new work fills an important gap. There are excellent theoretical and architectural works to help church leaders conceive the mission of pastoral ministry and fellowship groups (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp is one great one). But Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress: 2007) may be the best yet in giving churches an easy-to-read book that has great potential in small group settings as believers help one another identify — and then mortify — the “respectable” sins of the heart. And only one who has proven himself faithful to the message of the Cross, like Bridges, is suited to lead us deep into the caves and caverns where sin lives in our hearts. A useful and excellent book worthy of consideration in the 2007 TSS Book of the Year contest.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
We are trusting God for great things in the coming year. Our prayer is that you would walk with Him more closely and share His love with a world that has lost its bearings.
I've been reading an excellent new book by John Stott entitled The Living Church. He states that "we are trustees of God's revelation" meaning that the Father has entrusted His truth, the Good News, to us and it's our reponsibility, by the Spirit's enabling, to faithfully and biblically declare that revelation to our world.
Have a joy-filled Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
The pilgrim, David
Note: Thanks to Becky from Glad Books for this beautiful picture of sun on snow.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
What we celebrate:
~ David W. Fisher
Monday, December 17, 2007
My friend will be buried in the Philippines on Tuesday. I'm not sure when the funeral is but they are 12 hours ahead of me so it's almost noon on Tuesday as I type this.
There are so many hurting people out there!
Father, touch those who hurt with Your loving, outstretched hand! Minister love, mercy, grace and peace to them tonight! Enfold them in Your everlasting arms. May the mystery of the incarnation become real to them as they discover what Christmas is all about. Grant this, O God, for Jesus' sake! AMEN!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I struggle to come to grips with this seeming tragedy. Watson is "absent from the body and present with the Lord" but those who remain are left to grieve...although "they don't sorrow as others who have no hope."
It's hard to imagine Noemi and Jenalyn coming home to an empty house with all the reminders of Watson there. It will be difficult for me to get any sense of closure because I won't get to see Watson's body.
We joked about growing old two weeks ago while we were chatting at church. He spoke often in recent months about being ready to go "home" but we never thought it would be this soon. Even though Watson lived in the Peterborough area (Millbrook) his heart had been in the Philippines for years. He had a heart for World Missions and served on the Missions Committee at Auburn Bible Chapel.
Watson, I'll miss you, dear friend. Noemi and Jenalyn, you are in our prayers and you are safely gripped and embraced by God's everlasting arms.
Thanks for praying for Noemi and Jenalyn, my friends!
Friday, December 14, 2007
"Years ago Ruth (Billy's wife who went to be with Jesus earlier this year) noticed a highway sign and told us she wanted that sign as her epitaph. If you visit her burial place today in Charlotte, you will find the words of the sign etched on her marker stone: 'End of construction. Thank you for your patience.' "
How fitting! We are continually being fashioned into His likeness. It's an ongoing work that won't be completed until we see His lovely face. In the meantime we ask that friends, family and associates be patient with us. We are a work in progress.
"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Italics mine - David
Thursday, December 13, 2007
In the accompanying photo you can see the portrait of George Muller that graces my desk. The photo on the right of one of the orphanage buildings was taken when I visited Bristol, England earlier this year.
The rock on the left was taken from a crumbling stone wall in front of one of the buildings. The other piece on the left is from the foundation of one of the orphanage buildings. The college that presently occupies these buildings was doing some renovations and I took this piece as a reminder of God's faithfulness and provision.
The book in the center is written by Roger Steer, Muller's biographer. Roger and I met in Exeter in March and enjoyed a wonderful time of Christian fellowship.
So, when I wonder if God will provide for our present needs I just need to look around my office. Of course His word declares His faithfulness and I just need to trust His promises.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
A member of our congregation who I had never engaged in a conversation before told me that she enjoyed reading my blog. I was excited to hear that but I asked why she had never left a comment after reading any of my posts.
We talked about the need for encouragement and I thanked her for letting me know that she reads my blog.
So, dear friends, share a comment...or two when something I've written has been a blessing.
And the friend's name who I challenged to "share a comment'? Sherra! Yes, that's her name...Sherra Fam!
I'll be waiting for your comments and be sure to encourage someone today.
"so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 (NIV)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
In the midst of the turmoil God, by His Spirit, was giving comfort and encouragement. Without His whispers urging me to carry on I wouldn't have made it. I would have crashed and it wouldn't have been pretty.
Every time I would begin to despair God would whisper, "Nudge in tight, things WILL be alright!" I'd cozy up to Him, so to speak, get under "shadow of the Almighty, be carried along by His everlasting arms and I'd sense a calm release. This happened repeatedly throughout the day.
Friday night I was awake in the middle of the night...thinking too much, of course, and God whispered again. I finally got up, went down to my computer and typed out this dialogue between the Father and me.
First a poem:
The whisper of God came out of the heavens.
Caring, compassionate words filled with love,
The whisper of God, so intimate, personal
Meant just for me and they came from above.
Now the dialogue:
GOD: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright!”
DAVID: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright?” Nudge? Doesn’t that mean to push aside? Surely that’s not what You’re trying to say.
GOD: “Your mere human words can’t ever describe
And convey to you what I’m trying to say.
Nudge, nestle, cuddle?…you know what I mean
Just trust me and do what I tell you today.”
GOD: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright!”
DAVID: "Yes, Father! I’ll nudge in tight, Things WILL be alright!
Dear friend, are you battling something that looms so large that it threatens to defeat you? Nudge in tight to God. Allow Him to take your burdens and cares. He has never lost a battle yet...and never will.
Psalm 91 is such a comfort in times like these:
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
~ David W. Fisher
December 3rd, 2007