Friday, December 30, 2011

Questions to Ask Yourself For 2012

10 Questions for the New Year?—Following are 10 questions from NavPress author Donald Whitney to help you evaluate the condition of your spiritual life. God’s plan is for all of us to live at full spiritual capacity! These questions help us think and move in this direction.

1. Do you thirst for God?

2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?

3. Are you more loving?

4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?

5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?

6. Do you delight in the Bride of Christ?

7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?

8. Do you still grieve over sin?

9. Are you a quick to forgive?

10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everybody!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - Jesus is Radically Divisive

Matthew 2:3 says, When Herod the king heard this he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod heard the news of the birth of a "king" and shook in his boots.  So did the religious establishment.  We tend to want to put Jesus in a box, to control Him, to make Him nice, and safe, and passive.  This is the guy who dumped tables over in the Temple and who said in Matthew 10:34, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."  Jesus knew the Gospel would divide this world. It is as true today as it has always been. If you know Christ that is passive and safe and exists primarily to meet your needs and make you comfortable, you don't know the real Jesus.

Friday, December 23, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - God Places Tremendous Value On the Lowly and the Lost

Luke 2:8-9 says, And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

Who were the first to hear publicly about the Christ child's birth? The Roman ruler? The religious establishment? Nope! Dudes keeping sheep. God loves the outcasts and the low. We all struggle at times with feelings of low self worth.  We look at the world around us and feel at the bottom of the pile.  But fear not!!  You are in the right place to have God reach down and use you for a powerful purpose!  That's His way.

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - When God Does Awesome Stuff For Us, The Proper Response is Praise

Luke 1:46-48 says, And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant."

Mary knew God had touched her life. Her response? Unabashed, heartfelt praise. Plain and simple. When God does good for us the most perfect response is pure, honest thankfulness and praise acknowledging His favor over us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jacob T. Marley - A Prequel to A Christmas Carol

Marley was dead, to begin with...

These words begin one of my favorite Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol. The beloved classic by Charles Dickens that has been made over and over again on stage and screen (my favorite being the Patrick Stewart version though the George C. Scott adaptation is a close second) and it tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the process of redemption he goes through the night before Christmas.  However, the tale of his long time partner Jacob Marley is over-looked, until now.
R. William (Bill) Bennett rewinds the story to reveal the life of Jacob T. Marley who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from the destructive path he had chosen.  Why was he allowed to return? Why was he not given the same chance to change?  Or had he?

Bennett's book has the sound and feel of the Dickens' classic and transports you back into that world.  With such remarkable story-telling, Bennett investigates and uncovers a life worth redeeming and delivers a wonderful companion to the classic Christmas tale.

To hear my interview with Bill Bennett click here or scroll down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - The Gospel is Not a Secret

Luke 2:17-18, And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

The shepherds saw the Baby and took to shoutin' in the streets! (well... maybe, but you never know!) The Gospel is by nature contagious. We are called to be people who openly speak to the saving grace of Christ in an individual's life. Let's get equipped to do this: read and study the Scriptures, be a part of an active discipleship community (Sunday School or small group), learn to tell your story, etc.  Always be prepared to share the hope you have - with energy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - We Should Approach Jesus With Reverance and Honor

Luke 1:31-33 says, And behold, you will concerive in your womd and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of JAcob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Many Christ-followers are guilty of downplaying Jesus' majesty. While we see Jesus as our personal Savior, He is also King of Kings, the Son of the Most High, the Holy Ruler who sits enthroned as Lord over all nations. As we pray, as we sing, as we teach let's be reminded Who it is we are serving. Jesus does not exist to answer to us. It's, in fact quite the opposite.

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - Responding to God in Obediance Allows Us to be Used to Our Fullest Intended Purpose

Luke 1:38, And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her.

When you feel God leading you to do something, or take some sort of action, the right response is obedience.  When you obey God, He can actually use you.  If you will not obey God's leading, they deprive yourself of being vital tools in His hands.  God is on mission... whether or not we choose to join Him is on us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - The Bible is a Record of God Working to Achieve His Purpose

Luke 2:4-5 says, And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

God promised David that someone from his lineage would always be on the throne. This happened, oh, roughly half a millennia before Christ was born! Fulfilled prophecy is an incredible teaching tool to help give your students confidence in God’s powerful providence. God is at work, in history and in the lives of your students. And that is really cool.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - The Harder the Situation the Greater the Faith

Matthew 1:24-25 (ESV) says, When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph may be my favorite (human) character of the Christmas Narrative. What incredible faith! Everything in him said to divorce Mary (and do it quietly to protect her life . . . what love!). But Joseph showed immense faith in the Lord’s plan. You can benefit immensely from Joseph’s example here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - You're Never Too Young to Be Used by God

Luke 1:26-27 says, In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

Mary was pretty young. Scholars' opinions range anywhere from 13 or 14 years old to 18 or 19.  The point is this: God used Mary in a miraculous way.  That's God's M.O.  He used Mary when she was just a teenager.  We could also mention her cousin Elizabeth who gave birth at an older age.  It doesn't matter your age, position in life or your circumstances (do a study on the town of Nazareth), God can and will use you today as vital parts of His plan to redeem humankind.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Devotional - The Incarnation is Awesome

Luke 2:6-7, And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

It seems this generation places a high value on authenticity. There is nothing more authentic than the God of the Universe taking in human form in order to perfectly save his creation from themselves. We can know and worship and relate to God because He became one of us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Grace Effect

Where would the U.S. be without the influence of Christian values?  Historian and author Larry Taunton has taken up answering this question in his new book, The Grace Effect: how the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.  Taunton tells the captivating story of his family's efforts to adopt a Ukrainian orphan named Sasha, the Godless world they encountered along the way, and the glimpse they saw of future America if radical secularists have their way.

Through the narrative of Sasha's redemption, you see the false promises of socialism; the soul-destroying influence of unbelief; and how a society cultivates its own demise when it rejects the ultimate source of grace.  But they also see the power of the grace effect, an observable phenomenon proving that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.

To listen to the interview please click here or scroll down.  For more information on this remarkable story click here.

Larry Taunton is the founder and executive director of Fixed Point Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith. In that role, Taunton has personally engaged some of the most vociferous opponents of Christianity, including Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer and Christopher Hitches.
Taunton has written a great article regarding the on-going anti-Tebow stories that will engage you in a new way - read the article here.  Plus he also developed the Lookup316 Superbowl ad, which was rejected by the network. Watch the commercial below:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Answers for Skeptics

Dr. Alex McFarland, religion and culture expert, is a renowned expert in Christian apologetics.  He is the host of the TV program Sound Rezn and is the co-host for Explore the World.  He has authored several books including, The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity, Stand Strong: In College, 10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer plus others.

One thing you will find about Dr. McFarland's books is that they are well-written.  They are intellectual yet easy to understand.  He doesn't shy away from the hard topics but confronts them head on.  His latest book, 10 Answers for Skeptics, identifies the 10 most common types of skepticism that plague doubters' minds and offers believers proven strategies for connecting intellectually and spiritually with those who are skeptical about the claims of Christianity.

Dinesh D'Souza, New York Times best-selling author and president of The King's College, says in his forward to the book, "His enthusiasm is contagious not only in person but also in his writing. Alex's latest contribution to the field of apologetics, 10 Answers for Skeptics, is a unique blend of reason and experience. The result is a book that offers answers to intellectual barries as well as the experiential challenges to faith that trouble many skeptics."

During my interview with Alex we talked about his new book plus his latest debate with president of American Atheists David Silverman over the topic "Is Christianity good for America?"  To listen click here or scroll down.