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Archive for November, 2008

Commending Christ Pastors Conference

Mark Dever, author of The Gospel and Personal Evangelism,  will be speaking at the 2009 Desiring God Pastors Conference.  The theme will be Commending Christ: The Pastor, the Church, and the Perishing.

Below Mark discusses the importance of creating a culture of evangelism:

Hear more about the 2009 DG Pastors Conference from Mark Dever and John Piper.

November 29, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: James Kinnard @ 9:02 am | 0 Comments »

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Taken from the collection of Lincoln’s papers in the Library of America series, Vol. II, pp. 520-521.

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

—Abraham Lincoln

This excerpt was taken from Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. You can read some sample material online:

November 27, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:14 am | 0 Comments »

Evangelicals, Advent, and Anthologies

Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today just posted an interesting article about how evangelicals are “adopting — and adapting” traditional Advent rituals. The piece, called “Evangelicals Adopting Advent,” features an interview with Crossway author Nancy Guthrie about Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, her new book of Advent reflections. Grossman writes:

Bible teacher and writer Nancy Guthrie has a collection of readings for Advent that draws on evangelical writers, with an emphasis on Scripture. In Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, Guthrie draws on 22 sermons and writings, from Saint Augustine and Martin Luther to theologians such as Jonathan Edwards and contemporary preachers such as John Piper and Tim Keller.

“I so often felt that by the time I got to Christmas morning, after the parties, and planning and shopping and presents and travel, that there was a void, that I hadn’t had time to prepare my heart for the gift, with a capital G, of Jesus,” says Guthrie of Nashville, whose denomination is the Presbyterian Church of America.

“Since I’m not bound by the traditional Advent, I could choose writers for this collection who break out of the familiar talk of Christmas to the shocking wonder of it, that God revealed himself to the humblest among us,” she says.

You can read the full article here. More information about Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, including the table of contents and sample chapters, is available on our website.

November 26, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:16 pm | 0 Comments »

Grumbling or Gratitude?

Does it ever seem surprising to you that God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years because they grumbled? My kids may have spent thirty minutes in their rooms for griping, but forty years? What a severe discipline! Ouch, it seems harsh.

God clearly is not pleased with grumbling. It doesn’t make Him happy to hear His children complain constantly. Sound like any children you know?

Being grateful is a choice. It’s not a feeling dependent on our circumstances, as we clearly see in the Pilgrims’ lives. They believed that God was in control— “Providence”, they called it. They responded to the circumstances of their lives with a perspective that said, “God has allowed this for our good.”

John Piper has written in his book A Godward Life: “Remembering our dependence on past mercies kindles gratitude. Gratitude is past-oriented dependence; faith is future-oriented dependence. Both forms of dependence are humble, self-forgetting and God-exalting. If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry.”

Gratitude is what we express when we take time every Thanksgiving Day to remember God’s past mercies and provisions and then pause to thank Him for them.

The stories of those who have gone before us inspire our faith. When we consider those great saints listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 or our Pilgrim forefathers or those men and women we know in recent times who have modeled great dependence on God, our faith is stretched and increased. Their example of placing all hope in Jesus Christ encourages us to do the same.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Those who sailed on the Mayflower knew their Bible well. They were convinced that God existed and could only be pleased through faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Someone has said, “Faith is a firm conviction, a personal surrender, and a conduct inspired by your surrender.” The Pilgrims were totally surrendered to God, and they believed that He was leading them to the New World. So they went, confident that He would guide and provide.

The Bible is full of verses on giving thanks. Our problem in America is not that we don’t know we are to be thankful, but often we choose to complain instead. The Psalms contain a number of verses that call thanksgiving a sacrifice:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Psalm 50:14)

He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me. (Psalm 50:23)

Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving. (Psalm 107:22)

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)

Why is it a sacrifice to give thanks to the Lord? Because being thankful forces us to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on the Lord. Giving up our self-focus is the kind of denial that pleases God.

As a nation, we have inherited a remarkable gift in our freedom to worship, but we have strayed far from our roots and heritage. We must return to the faith of our fathers. Developing a heart of gratitude is the beginning step in growing a stronger faith. Remember what God has done and believe that He will take care of us in the future.

This excerpt was taken from Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. You can read some sample material online:

November 25, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:21 am | 0 Comments »

10 Reading Tips

Tim Challies, author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, gives ten tips for reading more and reading better:

  1. Read
  2. Read Widely
  3. Read Deliberately
  4. Read Interactively
  5. Read with Discernment
  6. Read Heavy Books
  7. Read Light Books
  8. Read New Books
  9. Read Old Books
  10. Read What Your Heroes Read

Visit Challies.com for Tim’s explanation on these ten tips.

November 24, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: James Kinnard @ 1:19 pm | 0 Comments »