Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Blog on the Block

The moment we've all been waiting for... C.J Mahaney has started his own blog.  here is the link: http://sovereigngraceministries.com/Blog/ 


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes...

Most recently I have been reading a book about taxes.  I know I know, boring right?  Wrong.  The book I am reading is one of the most well-written and carefully thought out books that I have read this year.  It is entertaining, thought-provoking, educational, and yes even fun.  It is entitled "The FairTax Book" and is authored by Neal Boortz (radio talk show host) and Congressman John Linder (of Georgia).  I wanted to share with you an excerpt from the book that discusses how federal Income Tax Withholding came about and then how it convicted me of my sin. 

In the early years of the income tax, taxpayers would calculate the full amount of income taxes they owed for the previous tax year and write one check to the Internal Revenue Service.  Your taxes were paid just as you pay your automobile insurance premium or your real estate property taxes today.  you get your bill; you write your check.  Before withholding came along, you can bet your life savings that people knew how much they were paying in income tax.  You write the government a check for that kind of loot every year, and it has a way of sticking in the old memory bank.

That was a good thing for the individual taxpayer's sense of he fiscal well-being, at least.  For politicians who want to raise taxes?  Not so good.  Then came withholding...

In order to gain the necessary level of public support for income tax withholding, a fiction was created.  It was called the Ruml Plan, cleverly named after the man who came up with the idea, one Beardsley Ruml.  Here's the bill of goods the Ruml Plan helped sell to the American people.  It seems very simple: if, starting in 1943, you allow us to start withholding taxes from your paychecks, then we'll forgive you all of the taxes you owe for the year 1942 and you won't have to pay them when March 15 rolls around!...

Now let's take a moment to apply some logic to this Ruml Plan.  Were Americans getting away with anything?  Of course not.  Perhaps the best way to dispel any notion that this was a "tax elimination" scheme is to point out that the government's revenues wouldn't decline under the plan.  Now, if you're going to forgive an entire year's income tax collections, you would expect government revenue to take quite a hit, wouldn't you?  Well, it didn't.  The simple truth was that, instead of paying the previous year's tax bill in one lump sum, wage earners would really be paying the previous year's taxes  over the course of the current year, paycheck by paycheck, through the new withholding system.  The politicians realized that expanding the income tax, while instituting the withholding scheme, would allow them to increase the government's tax revenues enough that it easily compensated for this supposed 1942 "tax forgiveness" offer.

After reading this I was infuriated to say the least.  My own government, knowingly deceiving the American people and robbing them of their money and freedom.  Arrgh.  To top it off, after I read this yesterday I received my W-2 from work, informing me of how much money the government "withheld" from me this year.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I quickly began to grow angry and bitter in my heart, thinking I deserved that money that I had worked for.  What right does the government have to take my money out of my paycheck before I even see it?  I was ticked off to say the least.  

Then came my Bible.

Then Conviction.

The Lord reminded me of a verse we read while discussing "Trusting God" and the sovereignty  of the Lord in our government.  Mark 12:17 "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are Gods."  Sweet, sweet conviction.  It always goes down smooth.  The fact of the matter is, is that God has placed our Government where it is and he has ordained "withholding" to be apart of our government.  Though the Ruml Plan was deceiving in nature and wrong in my book, it doesn't give me a license  to store anger and bitterness in my heart and thus sin against God.  I can quietly disagree with the way the Government collects our taxes and then move on to trusting the sovereignty of God in all areas of my life.  Yes, even in taxes.  Now for that repentance thing...


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where's The Music?

Last Sunday, a message was given concerning our affections toward God. A phrase was used that, "Truth without affections is like life without music." Technically, you could use anything to replace the word music. A word that hits closer to home for you perhaps? Something like, truth without affections is like life without football, work, family, friends and so on. The point is, that when you take one of these things out of your life, it could seem boring or joyless. The same can be said of our Christian life when we know all the truths, but don't have any of the feelings that should accompany them.

I bring and offering of worship to my king
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may you receive the honor that you're due
O Lord, I bring an offering to you

In my own life, I'm afraid that often times, these truths have become familiar to me. I can become complacent about aggressively pursuing these truths and keeping them ever before me. I can become lazy in studying these truths so that objective affections can grow out of objective truth. The Cross, should never become familiar to me. What Christ did, should never become familiar to me. Who God is, should never become familiar to me. God's truths should become so real and amazing to us that it affects our lives. It should affect our joy, countenance, emotions, attitudes and be an example to others. Who wants to be apart of a faith that is dry and devoid of passion? I have to ask myself how I can sometimes lose my voice shouting at a football game and then struggle to sing when I'm tired on Sunday mornings? Once again, this is a clue as to what I'm giving my affections to. We can't love what we don't know and when my affections for the Lord begin to wane, I know that's a big hint telling me to get in my room and pursue spending time with the God and allowing His truths to affect my affections. By God's grace we can all have a passionate love for the Lord if only we will take the time to pursue it. I once heard a saying that "Music is what feelings sound like." If that's true what would my feelings about God sound like? Bad karaoke music? My prayer is for my affections to be a fragrant offering to God.

"What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love!" - Valley of Vision

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Wretch Like Who?

I’ve been reading the book “The Grace and Truth Paradox” by Randy Alcorn and he tells a story in the book about a time he was listening to a soloist singing one of his favorite songs “Amazing Grace.” He said, “It was beautiful until she got to the tenth word.” “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a soul like me!” His heart sank. The word wretch had been edited out. John Newton, the songwriter knew he was a wretch and that’s what made God’s grace so amazing, mind boggling, and pretty much awesome.

“If we’re nothing more then morally neutral souls, do you see what that does? It guts grace. The better we are, the less we need it. The less amazing it becomes. The Bible makes an astounding proclamation: ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8)"

“When you cut wretch out of the song, you shrink grace. You reduce it to something more sensible, less surprising. If we weren’t so bad without Christ, why did He have to endure the cross? Paul said if men were good enough, then ‘Christ died for nothing’ (Galatians 2:21) Grace never ignores the awful truth of our depravity. In fact, it emphasizes it. The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize how great God’s grace is.”

What relief this has brought me to realize that my salvation cannot be earned by good works and therefore can’t be lost by bad ones. Through that story I realized that if I see God as who He really is and myself as whom I really am there’s only one appropriate response, and that is to worship Him. What a wretched sinner I am but, by God’s amazing grace I am now free!!!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

For Jenn

Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Phillipians 4:6 "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Joshua 1:5 "I will not leave you or forsake you."


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tom Brady

I recently watched this interview and thought it was fitting in light of their most current quest for their fourth super bowl.

In reality, all of the lost are searching for "something more", Tom just has the guts to admit it.  Maybe God is giving Mr. Brady all of these super bowls to draw him to Jesus Christ?  That must be why the Jags lost!  In all seriousness though, I sincerely hope and pray that Tom turns to Christ to fill his empty life.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Finding Peace in God's Hands

Here are some wise words from Elisabeth Elliot that I found very helpful....

“God’s promises to guide cover every imaginable situation. All we need to do is take the hand he stretches out. But it is here that the hardest question arises: How, exactly, do I take his hand? He has said over and over, ‘I will guide you,’ but there are so many promises with conditions attached, conditions that seem impossible to fulfill. The best kind of beginning, when we want to know the will of God, is to concentrate first on God himself. The briefest effort to do this will humble us.”


New Attitude 2008


Friday, January 11, 2008

Taste and See

"Not long before his death on September 27, 1982, I visited Dr. Wilford Widen in the hospital. He looked up at me from his bed with a smile and said, 'Pastor John, the greatest thing in the world is to be saved.' Those words are the abiding legacy of a great saint who gave oversight to the Sunday school at our church for forty years and led the building campaign for on of our buildings.

Do you feel this? If not, perhaps the reason is that you never really felt very lost and desperate before the judgement of God or threatened by an eternity of conscious torment in hell. Oh, how we love being saved after we have just come close to being killed. Perhaps by a powerful ocean undertow. Or by getting a finger caught in the drain at the bottom of a swimming pool. (Yes, filled with water! I can remember it well). Or almost walking out in front of a car that speeds by just three feet from you at forty miles an hour, but your wife's voice catches you in the split second before you step into death. Or a remission from a long battle with cancer. Or release from a prison camp in the Gulag after sixteen years of expecting death. Or after surviving a plane crash when others perished.

Oh, how we love life at those moments and cleave to everything precious. So it is when you taste the preciousness of being saved from sin. Not just the words. Not just a fact learned from the Bible, but really feeling that you are justly damned and hopelessly lost and cut off from God and life and joy. Then to learn that God has made a way. That he will forgive you, That he will accept you and love you and work all thing for your good. That all your sins can be forgiven and cast into the deepest sea and never brought up against you anymore. Oh, the preciousness of being saved from sin and judgement and hell!"

John Piper


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

HuckChuck Facts

You may have already seen this but we thought it was worthy of posting...


Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh so Sweet...

I am continually amazed by the inconsistencies that characterize my life.  The hypocrisy, lying, cheating, and blatant rebellion disgust me to the point of tears sometimes.  I know that even this realization of the deep state of my sin is only by the grace of God as well.  

I have grown to enjoy those precious moments when the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes ever so clear to me.  There is nothing better than those times when I am broken by my sin and shortcomings, only to find full acceptance by God and unmerited favor brought about by the blood and sacrifice of His Son.  Every day I must pray that God make these truths so real to me, otherwise, when those moments of condemnation come I will crumble under its weight.

The gospel must be my foundation, and its truths the author of my faith.  To borrow words from the artist Steve Fee, "Its all because of Jesus I'm alive."  What a simple but truly comforting statement!

Listen to Spurgeon's wonderful words of truth and encouragement, "Jesus is to believers  the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have.  he has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for Him; to His glory we would live, and in the defense of His gospel we would die;  He is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character."

It's interesting how as soon as you think you're doing well and are walking steadily on a smooth path, you suddenly find yourself sprawled out on the rocky face of a mountain. This description isn't literal for me (well it could be =), but it depicts how I have felt very recently. I think I had become familiar with my surroundings and was able to navigate through daily life pretty well, but when I was placed in a new location, with a new routine and unexpected situations, I have seen that I did not walk things out as I should have. I was less of an encourager, I was less eager to serve, I was quicker to judge, I was quicker to anger, I was quicker to pride. Though I do believe that God's grace sustained me through many instances, I did not embrace it as I should have. I believe that in many ways I completely went against 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

I lacked love last week because I sometimes lacked patience and kindness; I lacked love because I'm sure I was arrogant and rude; I lacked love because I know there were instances where I wanted my own way; I lacked love because I became irritable and resentful; I lacked love by being passive about certain things and not seeking after truth hard enough; I lacked love when I didn't bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things and endure all things. My heart is saddened when I consider the many ways I have failed, but I know that God is faithful and is continuing His amazing work in each one of us as He promises. All I can do now is seek after Him harder and pursue the kind of love in 1 Corinthians until it is effortlessly pouring out of me and blessing others. My desire is to be Christ to others and glorify the Lord in all that I do. I am deeply grateful for all the precious brothers and sisters the Lord has blessed me with and how the Lord has used them to reveal things in my life. My prayer for the future is that I will be able to beautifully portray the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself." - Romans 15:1-3

~Heavenly Father, you are so patient with me and my numerous failings. Help me to grow to be more like you as I walk out my days on this earth. Help me to demonstrate the kind of love that you have called me to and help me desire the things above more than the things of this world. Thank you for Your sustaining grace and for continuing Your work of sanctification in me. May You be glorified and others be blessed through my life. Amen~