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The Paradoxes of the Christian Life

I was reflecting the past few days on how many paradoxes there are in the Christian life.  Things that seem to be contradictory, but are in fact, well, fact!!  As I was thinking about this I did something that I do daily, I picked up one of my copies of  The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.  There it was, the very first entry in the book.  But it was kinda standing alone, not categorized as all the other prayers are.  I’ve been reading this book almost daily for at least 15 years, yet in all that time I had never read this first and introductory prayer.  I really thought that a bit strange, but if I have read it, I don’t remember it.  So it was like new and fresh water to my soul.  And it dealt with the subject on which I had been thinking.

I thought you might benefit from it also:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Your glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter the stars shine;

Let me find Your light in my darkness,
Your life in my death,
Your joy in my sorrow,
Your grace in my sin,
Your riches in my poverty,
Your glory in my valley.

A worthy prayer, and a pretty good description of the Christian life.

Outstanding Thoughts from Ray Ortlund

This is rich!!! I mean really, really rich.  Please read and contemplate carefully!!

What does it mean to “accept Jesus”?
Ray Ortlund

“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9

You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We tell ourselves we’re this way because we’re so busy with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we’re just divided, unfocused, hesitant, unfree.

That kind of person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give him a vote too. But then he becomes just one more complication. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you. Please run my whole life for me.” That is not complication; that is salvation.

“Accepting Jesus” is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.

How Important is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions?

(THIS IS AN UPDATED AND CORRECTED POST)

How Important is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions?

Someone asked me that question a few days ago so I thought I would try and put in perspective the importance and value of this annual offering we take this time of the year.  Last year Grace Baptist Church gave $13,075 to the LMCO.  Every penny of this went to the mission field.  It went to buy specific things that the missionaries need to minister in a foreign country.  Many of them, like people we know, minister in lands that are not friendly to the Gospel

Most Baptists are people who believe in international, as well as home missions.  We are very conscious that our Lord gave His commission to the church to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  At Grace we not only give to mission offerings but we personally are committed to taking the Gospel, not just sending others.  Thus we have adopted the  Chancay River Valley in the Andes Mountains of Peru and we expend money, in addition to LMCO and Cooperative Program, to reach these people with the Gospel.

The importance, indeed the urgency, of the LMCO becomes even more apparent when you realize just how little of our Cooperative Program money gets to the International Mission Board.  And of that which does get there a significant portion goes to administration stateside.  But ALL of the LMCO goes to the international field.

So you may ask, how much of our CP dollars actually get to the International Mission Board (IMB)?  This year we will give about $68,762 to the Cooperative Program.  It is sent to the Kentucky Baptist Convention in Louisville where it is split with the Southern Baptist Convention.  The KBC keeps 63% of our money and sends 37% on to the SBC.  That means $43,320.06 stays in Kentucky and $$25,441.94 goes to Nashville.  There the budget for the SBC is administered.  The IMB gets 50% of the SBC budget. So that means that 50% of our $25,441.94 goes to the IMB.  That is a total of $12,720.97.

The LMCO gives us a chance to more than double the money we send throughout the year to reach the nations with the Gospel.

This past summer at the annual meeting of the SBC, President Johnny Hunt appointed a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.  They are charged with examining how we are spending our money as Southern Baptists and how we can get more to actually go to missions.  In my humble opinion, it is about time!!  We have some bureaucracies that will rival the Federal government for waste and inefficiency.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I love the Southern Baptist Convention.  I believe that we do missions better than most.  I believe we have a good system in place for doing missions in the Cooperative Program.  But I do think we need to do a better job.

So you see the LMCO is indeed very, very important in the cause of International missions.  So as we come to this time of year, and the standard Baptist joke is, “Are we ever going to pay Lottie Moon off?”  The answer is . . . Not until Christ returns or the nations are reached with the Gospel.  Pray and give above your tithe this Christmas season, that the nations may hear about our Lord Jesus Christ.

Continual Repentance — Valley of Vision

ValleyofVision.jpg

One of my favorite devotional tools is the book The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.  There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t read in this extraordinary collection.  One of my favorite, and most convicting prayers, is this one:

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,

You have imputed my sin to my substitute, Jesus
and You have imputed His righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is colored with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment.
for You do always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into a far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and you are always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

Obama and the Media

Mallard -- BHOs Poll Numbers 2

The media is no longer the watchdog for the people in this country.  They are the lapdogs for the liberal elite.

Mallard Fillmore tells it like it is more than most “journalists” do in our nation today.  And he is a fictional duck, for heaven’s sake!!!!

Favorite Contemporary Hymn-writers and Favorite Hymn by them

Powerful message . . . beautiful melody . . . let’s worship our God together through the Power of the Cross.

Merry Christmas

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