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Archive for July, 2009

MPj03877050000[1]When I originally wrote what follows, I was sitting in a hotel room in Sinia, Romania taking advantage of a rare break in the midst of what had been 12 days of non-stop activity. The time, while brief, allowed me to reflect on the people I had met, the conversations I had had and the places I had visited. But what was funny was, the snapshots my mind had taken since I had been there were being interrupted by the memories of my first visit to the Promenade in Rogers the week before I left. What’s even funnier is that a song was repetitively accompanying this mental slide show (I should say a line from the chorus of a song by John Mayer. “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life. Am I living it right?”). It was as if I was watching a multimedia presentation on a computer. I hope you enjoy it. Soli Deo Gloria

I see an image of a horse-drawn wagon full of dried cornstalks and it is replaced with a man trying to park his Cadillac SUV. “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life. Am I living it right?” I see a family of 7, in what is likely to be their Sunday best, walking in the mud toward the local Baserica (Romanian for church) which dissolves into a picture of a family of four in Build a Bear. “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life. Am I living it right?” In the next scene I see tears rolling down the cheeks of a young woman who is overwhelmed with gratitude as she is served a meal she didn’t have to grow, kill, or cook herself. This is abruptly overtaken by a picture of a young woman expressing her anger over the extended wait she has had to endure at P.F. Changs. “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life. Am I living it right?” The final pair of pictures is more vivid than any of the others. The first of the duo includes a young man wearing the same pants, shirt and jacket for four days in a row. The second is of a woman carrying so many bags of new clothes and shoes she can’t take two steps without having to set them down to readjust her grip. “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life. Am I living it right?” I could go on but I think you get the idea.

I don’t know if that strikes a chord with you or not, but here’s what I’m thinking. We live in world of stark contrasts. The United States, despite its share of conflict during its brief existence, is a country of immense material wealth. Romania, on the other hand, has spent the last 17 years crawling out of the devastation left in the wake of a Communist regime that lasted for over 45 years. Lifestyles of consumption and waste, as well as the expectation of not only obtaining more but of everything being bigger and better than before, have become American trademarks. Romanians are so busy coping from one day to the next they haven’t time to develop any expectations and the idea of deserving something isn’t even a consideration unless, of course, they’ve had the “privilege” of visiting the west. There is also a striking contrast between the churches in the two countries. But that’s for another article.

As the pictures run over and over through my head, it becomes painfully clear. Despite living in abundance and wealth, Americans, on average, seem to lack gratitude and joy. Rather than expressing thanks for and rejoicing in every good and perfect God-given gift, we walk around with frowns on our faces demanding more or at least a different kind of gift as if every one we received was a right rather than a gracious blessing. When our expectations or demands aren’t met, we grumble and complain as if we were owed more.

Despite living in need and in many cases poverty, Romanians, at least those I’ve observed, seem to remain grateful and joy-filled for what little they have. Their eyes are brighter. Their smiles are bigger. Their laughter is deeper. Their families are closer. And interestingly enough, the same seems to be true for Christians and non-Christians alike, even though I know the height, depth, and breadth of gratitude and joy is greater for the former than the latter.

Having had the opportunity to experience another culture, I have to ask myself, “Am I living right?” As a matter of fact, it would probably be a good exercise for all of us. “Are we living right?” Of course the answer to that question may not be easy to hear. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

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Check out this post at Challies.com.

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Here is the tune. The lyrics are below.

I once was ignorant of grace
Though living in its light;
The things of earth held my embrace
And captured all my sight.
Though I was blind and dead in sin
In love You called to me
And gave my heart new life within,
New eyes Your grace to see.

The Spirit then revealed to me
My heart was fully tinged
With strife and boundless enmity
That soon would be avenged.
But then I saw a God of grace
So eager to forgive
He let His Son die in my place
That in Him I might live.

My heart was changed – I then admired
The One I caused such loss
For all that Justice had required
Was finished on the cross.
The Savior then became to me
My joy and all-in-all
And now into eternity
Will never let me fall.

My soul must overflow in song
Each time I call to mind
That to my Jesus I belong
When judgment I should find.
O grant that I might always weep
Because of mercy shown
To one whose treason runs so deep
Yet now is called Your own.

Words by David L. Ward. Tune: KINGSFOLD (English Traditional), Arr. David Ward
Based on the prayer “The Great Discovery” from The Valley of Vision.
© 2009 ReformedPraise.org, administered by Reformed Praise.
See the Reformed Praise copyright agreement for usage information.

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MPj03093560000[1]

Church-Wide Garage Sale

100% of proceeds go to the Loving Choices Pregnancy Center

Saturday, August 1st, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Furniture, vendor donations, household accessories, and more!

1710 S. 27th Place

New Hope Road and S. 27th in Southern Trace Addition, Rogers

(near the Pinnacle Hills Promenade)

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Lacking Holiness

16 “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” – 1 Peter 1:16 (NASB)

We come into the presence of God with tainted souls. We come with our own concept of morality, having learned it from books, from the newspaper and from school. We come to God dirty – our whitest white is dirty, our churches are dirty and our thoughts are dirty – and do nothing about it. If we came to God dirty, but trembling and shocked and awestruck in His presence, if we knelt at His feet and cried with Isaiah, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips”, then I could understand. But we skip into His presence. We’re dirty, but we have a book called Seven Steps to Salvation that gives us seven verses to get us out of our problems. And each year we have more Christians, more people going to church, more church buildings, more money – and less spirituality and less holiness.

A.W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

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Pulpit

In our day, there are a host of roles Christians expect their pastors to fill. Many people think the pastor should be an entertainer. Others ask their pastor to be te pragmatist extraordinaire who only delivers “relevant” messages. Some want a life coach to help them attain their best life now, while others seek the corporate magnate who can quickly increase the church’s membership and campus size. There are even those who want their pastor to ignore biblical teaching the culture finds objectionable so that he can join whatever cause is currently in vogue.

God’s Word, however, gives pastors a far different calling, as we see in I timothy 4:13. Paul, the “senior pastor” of the Ephesian church, has appointed Timothy to stand in for him in his absence and do the work for which he would otherwise be responsible. So, what he tells Timothy to do while he is away serves as a good description of a pastor’s calling – indeed, the calling of all elders – which is the public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching.

Feeding the Lord’s people a steady diet of truth through the faithful proclamation of His Word is the pastor’s chief job. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for the Christian’s spiritual health (2 Timothy 3:14-17), and so the pastor is to make sure his flock learns to hear the Word rightly and apply it practically. This involves the public reading of Scripture in worship as well as exhortation (I Timothy 4:13), which is the process of explaining the sense of the text and drawing practical applications for the people. Customarily, this is done thorugh the preaching of expository sermons, a practice with a biblical precedent (Neh. 8:8). Finally, pastors are to engage in teaching how the diverse portions of Scripture fit together into one stream of unified doctrine (I Timothy 4:13).

We will be headed for disaster if we ever think biblical teaching is insufficient for our sanctification. Let us never tire of the meat of God’s Word, and let our pastors never think that they are able to plumb fully the depths of the Scriptures. John Chrysostom says, ‘It is not possible. . .ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom’ (ACCNT, vol. 9, p. 193).

Tabletalk Magazine
July 9, 2009

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MPj04387000000[1]To aid not only in preparing for worship and the Lord’s Supper this weekend, but also in learning new music, I wanted to post a song we will be singing this weekend. Jeremy introduced us to it a couple of weeks ago, but I know some were absent and are not familiar with it. I also wanted the few who may read this blog that aren’t a part of Legacy to have the pleasure of learning such a great song. Click here to listen to the song and follow along with the lyrics. You can find more of this great music at ReformedPraise.org.

My precious Savior gave His all, His body, heart, and soul, to rescue me from Adam’s fall and recreate me whole. He left His majesty behind, the King became a slave! No earthly comforts did He find but sought instead the grave.

His hands though pierced by enemies stretched out in selfless love. His body fixed to Calvary’s tree, now pleads for me above. Though Jesus’ heart was crushed with grief, weighed down with all my sin, He clung to this, His sure relief – that joy He soon would win.

His soul was left abandoned there when on the cross He died, but rose again, His life to share, my sin and guilt to hide. What Jesus gave for sinners’ sake I cannot comprehend. But this I know – it served to make this enemy His friend.

Words and Music by David L. Ward.
© 2009 ReformedPraise.org

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