Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bill Cosby and the Lady from North

1st collector for Bill Cosby and the Lady from North
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This is hilarious! Comedy doesn't have to be vulgar or mean. Of course, someone with no clue helps, like in this case. Cosby is a classic!

Friday, October 29, 2010

God is Love

Currently I am researching the differences between Islam and Christianity for a brief Sunday school series I've (un)originally entitled The Crescent and the Cross. The seed for this series has been the recent conversion of a Kurdish man, a former Muslim. His name (now) is John. Speaking with this new and dear brother in Christ, as well as having been inundated with news reports of Islam since 9/11, has prompted me to finally write such a series of lessons. This has involved a lot of reading:

As well as some listening, not just to John, but to R.C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb in their teaching series "The Cross and the Crescent". (Which explains why my series title is unoriginal!)

I've been surprised to learn of many similarities between Islam and Christianity. Of course, the similarities are not concrete. Here is what I mean. I have often heard that Christianity is loved-based and Islam fear-based. Technically that is true, but that simple statement belies the fact that love is replete in the Koran. One of the ninety-nine beautiful names for God in the Koran is al-Wadud which means "He who loves." Every surah (chapters of the Koran, of which there are 114) except one begins with the words, "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful." BUT in the Koran love is something God does, not that which God is. Similar but not concrete.

In the New Testament we clearly (and gloriously) read that God IS love! Love is not just an activity of God, love is His essence! His love is neither accidental nor conditional. As Paul wrote, under the Holy Spirit's divine inspiration, in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And in the same chapter wherein we read that Gos is love (1 John 4:8) we also read, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

This is what makes God's love so amazing. He IS love, and He shows me His love. Me. I am a sinner. I do not just commit sins. I am sin. Sin is my nature (Ephesians 2:1-5; Romans 8:7; Mark 7:15; Romans 5:12). BUT God shows His love for me (and for you) in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Praise God for His powerful, unconditional, purposeful, redeeming, sanctifying, and satisfying love for me, a chief sinner whose best righteousness is nothing but filthy rags! God shows us His love because He is love. Meditating on this deep love of the Father (yes, my Father!) caused me to begin to sing in my heart the marvelous hymn of Stuart Townend - How Deep the Father's Love. If you have never heard it before, you need to hear it. If you are familiar with the hymn, praise God for it, and never allow yourself to become familiar with the matchless truth it edifies. Sing with all your might to our great God whose gracious love is deep and amazing.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Questions for Leaders

Kevin DeYoung's blog-post today has whetted my appetite for J. Oswald Sanders' book Spiritual Leadership. I've heard of it but never read it. That must change. DeYoung listed a few leadership questions that are found in Sanders' book. They are questions for leaders and those who would be leaders. This list is as convicting as it is insightful. See for yourself.

1. Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit? To lead others, one must be master of oneself.

2. Do you retain control of yourself when things go wrong? The leader who loses self-control in testing circumstances forfeits respect and loses influence. He must be calm in crisis and resilient in adversity and disappointment.

3. Do you think independently? While using to the full the thought of others, the leader cannot afford to let others do his thinking or make his decisions for him.

4. Can you handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved under it? Do you turn it to good account? The humble man can derive benefit from petty and even malicious criticism.

5. Do you possess the ability to secure discipline without having to resort to a show of authority? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and requires no external show of force.

6. Have you qualified for the beatitude pronounced on the peacemaker? It is much easier to keep the peace than to make peace where it has been shattered. An important function in leadership is conciliation—the ability to discover common ground between opposing viewpoints and then induce both parties to accept it.

7. Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate thing that they would not normally wish to do?

8. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without considering it a personal affront and reacting accordingly? Leaders must expect opposition and should not be offended by it.

9. Do you find it easy to make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of the quality and extent of your leadership.

10. Are you unduly dependent on the praise or approval of others? Can you hold a steady course in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?

11. Do your subordinates appear at ease in your presence? A leader should give an impression of sympathetic understanding and friendliness that will put others at ease.

12. Are you really interested in people? In people of all types and all races? Or do you entertain respect of persons? Is there hidden racial prejudice? An antisocial person is unlikely to make a good leader.

13. Do you possess tact? Can you anticipate the likely effect of a statement before you make it?

14. Do you nurse resentments, or do you readily forgive injuries done to you?

15. Are you reasonably optimistic? Pessimism is no asset to a leader.

16. Do you welcome responsibility?

17. Do other people’s failures annoy us or challenge us?

18. Do you direct people or develop people?

19. Do you criticize or encourage?

20. Do you shun the problem person or seek him out?

It would be easy to read such a list and conclude, "I'm not a leader and never will be." That may be easy, but it would not be right. Use tools such as this list to gauge where you are, and how you can and should improve. At least, that's my plan.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Purpose for Living

I have posted before how I enjoy reading Spurgeon's morning and evening devotional. The radio program Truth for Life produces a revised an updated format of Spurgeon's devotional. I wanted to share today's, which is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:7,

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea [is] not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

"Everything on earth is on the move; time knows nothing of rest. The solid earth is a rolling ball, and the great sun itself is a star obediently fulfilling its course around some greater luminary. Tides move the sea; winds stir the breezy ocean; friction wears the rock: Change and death rule everywhere. The sea is not a miser's storehouse for a wealth of waters, for as by one force the waters flow into it, by another they are lifted from it.

Men are born to die: Everything is hurry, worry, and vexation of spirit. Friend of the unchanging Jesus, what a joy it is to reflect upon your changeless heritage, your sea of bliss that will be forever full since God Himself shall pour eternal rivers of pleasure into it. We seek an abiding city beyond the skies, and we shall not be disappointed. The passage before us should teach us to be grateful.

The ocean is a great receiver, but it is also a generous distributor. What the rivers bring, it returns to the earth in the form of clouds and rain. The man who takes everything but makes no return is out of joint with the universe. To give to others is still sowing seed for ourselves. He who is so good a steward as to be willing to use his substance for his Lord shall be entrusted with more. Friend of Jesus, are you rendering to Him in proportion to the benefit you receive? Have you been given a great deal? Where is your fruit? Have you done all you might? Can you not do more?

To be selfish is to be wicked. Suppose the ocean gave up none of its watery treasure; it would bring ruin upon our race. God forbid that any of us should follow the ungenerous and destructive policy of living for ourselves. Jesus did not please Himself. All fullness dwells in Him, but from His fullness we have all received. Oh, to be like Jesus and no longer live for ourselves!"