Listed - My Fav's for 2009

My 2nd annual end of the year list.

Top 3 books I read this year:

1. Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson
2. Busted by Fred von Kamecke
3. The Fine Line by Kary Oberbrunner

I read a lot and many books could have made the list but these were the 3 I have referred people to the most this year.

Top 3 CD's I listened to this year:

1. While I'm Waiting by John Waller
2. 10 by Mercy Me
3. CompassionArt by Various Artists

Top 3 Favorite Bible Books this year:

1. Proverbs
2. John
3. Psalms

So there you have it.


Another Time, Another Place

Another Time, Another Place

I love science fiction. I grew up with Star Wars, the original trilogy, and have always enjoyed a good sci-fi film. One thing that has always fascinated me is the concept of time travel, going back or forward to a different place or time in history. What would it have been like if I was born in a different era? If I had the chance to make a decision over again would I do things differently? That is the question I hear people ask all the time. What if I had dated someone else? Moved when I had the chance? Taken that job when it was available?

Really, the fascination many have with time travel is that it would give us the chance to correct mistakes. The chance to right a wrong or to take the path that now looks better in hindsight. How many times have you heard someone say, "If I only knew then what I know now"? You might have said it yourself. I know I have. Many of us live a life of regrets because we are always looking backwards.

God the Father was a forward thinker. He had a plan in place even before He created the Heavens and the Earth. Notice how, when the fall happened, as recorded in Genesis 3, He immediately spoke "prophetic" words about Christ coming! (Gen. 3:14)

How about these words spoken in Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Look at this longer passage from Ephesians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-12)

So, God was a forward thinker. He had a plan. His plan, as set forth in Genesis, was for Christ to come at another time and another place. A perfect time and place I might add. So it was that, a little over 2000 years ago, Christ was born in a manger. He came to fulfill God's plan. He gave up the throne room of God for a season, so that He could bring us into everlasting relationship with the Father. He restored what was lost in the fall.

This holiday season, and throughout the year, don't look back with regrets. Lay down the "what ifs" and think about the "what is". God is directing your life. He has a plan for you. He knows what He is doing. Trust Him.


Blog Swap - Thinking Out Loud

I love Paul Wilkinson's Blog Thinking Out Loud. It's an excellent read. Today Paul and I are doing a blog swap. You can read my post on his blog, Thinking Out Loud. In the mean time, enjoy what Paul has to say here:

While other Christ-followers are fretting over the substitution of the word "holiday" for "Christmas," I'm keeping busy trying to substitute "incarnation" for "Christmas" in my correspondence and everyday conversation; although, as in the phrase, 'Have yourself a very merry incarnation;' it doesn't always fit. It's not that I'm trying to sound more theologically sophisticated around other believers, but I'm hoping that it will simply become a habit as I engage people who are on the margins of faith, so that I can then explain what it means for God to enter into the human condition and be both 100% man and 100% divine at the same time.

But really, God has been "breaking in" for quite some time now:
  • Evening walkabouts with Adam and Eve at Eden. There's something in their pre-fallen state -- and something about that location -- that helps facilitate these visits, which so sadly, last only a short time.
  • The original "summit meeting" with Moses. Hey, I guess that's where we get that term. Contact with God's "brightness" leaves Moses severely tanned.
  • The Old Testament "Christophanies." Not everyone agrees on this, but many believe that when the Bible says, "An angel of the Lord appeared..." that it was actually the pre-incarnate Christ who showed up.
  • Relaying messages through the prophets. Think of the prophets as forwarding e-mails from God. "This just in..."
  • Then the incarnation. God the Son enters into the human state of his creation; going "the whole nine yards," so to speak, from conception to birth to childhood, to working a trade, to temptation, to a wedding celebration, to hunger, to paying taxes, to weeping for a friend, to betrayal, to false accusation, to death.
  • The filling. No, not a pie filling. Just as Jesus was 100% human yet was 100% divine, he leaves his followers with a teeny, tiny taste of what that might have been like by placing his Spirit in each of us. Enough of Himself to empower and strengthen us in difficult challenges, and give us the right words to say in all kinds of situations. But not, of course, the 100% that Christ experienced; such that sometimes I forget that His power is there waiting to be recognized, waiting to be called on; forgetting that "He lives within my heart."
  • One more thing; a short, quick, special intervention with a guy named Saul. He finds out why Moses got so tanned. Moses was on God's side. Saul -- at the time -- was fighting against God with all he had. Moral of the story for people like that: Don't look directly at the light. Not right away. Or something like that. Fortunately for most of us, the song Amazing Grace doesn't go, "Could see, but now I'm blind."
Hebrews 1:1 tells us that God has been going through a long succession of ways and means and people trying to get our attention. (That's a very loose paraphrase, but you can look it up.) The most recent e-mail forwards from the prophets indicate that this is how it's to remain until the next stage, which will kind of wrap up the present age of opportunity (my new theological term) and bring his children, his followers, back to the way things were at Eden; and then some.

That being the case, I'm looking forward to those evening walkabouts.

~Paul Wilkinson


Does Leviticus Still Belong in the Bible?

Leviticus. The 3rd book of the Bible! Apparently no longer applicable to the Christian life.

Recently I have seen a few posts, on this blog and elsewhere, where people seem to discount an opinion if Leviticus is quoted! Now I know that Leviticus is in the OT, the cleaner and crisper part of many Bibles, but does this mean that it is irrelevant?

Jesus quoted from the book of Leviticus. He quoted from the OT quite often. Yet many believers operate as if Christianity started in the NT! The entire Bible is one long story and transitions from book to book, with a steady thread of redemption, grace and mercy throughout.

The issue, as I see it, is when the Bible, Old or New Testament, contradicts our current worldly morality. I mean who wants to read a book that condemns drinking blood and witchcraft when both are popular in society today. Why read a book that condemns unhealthy and sinful sexual practices when society, and many believers, feel these practices are ok.

Sure there are some laws that aren't applicable anymore...like women being put outside the camp for an issue of blood. God was trying to teach the Israelites about purity. I am not saying we need to follow EVERY dot, comma and dash. I am saying God does not change his mind about sin. Drinking blood was considered a sin, witchcraft - sin, homosexuality - sin. Just because it's in Leviticus does not invalidate God's truth.

Why read the OT at all. Aren't we under grace now? I mean God couldn't have had a good reason for us to still pay attention to all that old stuff could He? I'm sure God is ok if we throw out the parts we don't like or that society considers archaic.

Or maybe he wants us to speak against sin while also showing His grace and love to the sinner!

What do you think?


Busted Day on Just A Thought!

FYI: This contest is now closed. Winners are being contacted as I write this.

Christmas is coming and what a better time to share your faith with those around you. However, apologetics has never been my strong suit. I can share the Gospel but when I am confronted by someone who has a huge myth or pre-conception about the faith I am sometimes momentarily taken aback.

I have tried a few apologetic books but frankly I find most of them to be dry and uninteresting. Which brings me to this book, just in time for Christmas - Busted by Fred von Kamecke.

413PXK5kfsL. SS500  BOOK GIVEAWAY: Busted by Fred von Kamecke Fred Von Kamecke is assistant pastor at The Chapel in Graslake, Illinois and an adjunct professor at Bethel College. He has also served as an adjunct at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) where he also received his PhD in New Testament theology and exegesis. He teaches in the area of New Testament studies.

Fred wrote an awesome book called Busted which researches misconceptions of the Christian faith. This is from the back cover:
Following a brief summary of a recurring myth or misconception about the Christian faith, Fred explains why the myth is false and provides biblical and historical evidence in his response. He masterfully weaves together serious discussion with a touch of humor in his responses, all the while keeping the focus on the Scriptures. He avoids making fun of the people who hold views which differ from his own, but the views themselves are fair game.
Fred and Zondervan Publishing generously provided me with 20 copies to give away to Just A Thought readers which has now happened. Winners were contacted via email.

Please feel free to leave a comment with a question, myth or pre-conception someone has thrown at you when you share the faith or share a question about the Christian faith you’ve always wondered about.


Don't be a Christian Butterfly - Just A Thought #37

"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37)

Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned. I was raised by my Daddy that a man's word is his bond and a handshake is just as good. Even before I was a believer I heard that if you tell someone you'd be somewhere or do something you better follow through.

Sadly, I am not seeing that a lot today among some brothers and sisters in Christ. Too often, I see people being led "by the Spirit" in making their decisions. This would be okay if they stood by them. However one week someone will say they will be somewhere or do something, and the next they change their mind. If the Spirit is leading ,who changed their mind: you or the "Spirit"?

James 4:13-16, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

As believers we should be known for our integrity, not just before the world but amongst fellow believers as well. It is time for the flightiness and fidgeting among the body of Christ to cease and for people to commit where the Lord calls them. We should not be like butterflies, flitting from thing to thing (or experience to experience) looking for something more exciting. We should stay the course God has set us on unless He tells us to move.

If the Lord does call YOU to do something and you know it is your calling, then don't try to pass it off on someone else. Seek the wisdom of the Lord. Do what He tells you and follow through on your word!