Archives For Devotional

There are no new sins, only more diverse and efficient ways of committing them. Before we let the mainstream of 21st Century culture catch us in its current, let’s hit pause for a moment and get our bearings. Perhaps it’s time to swim against the information flow.

Here are four godly disciplines to pursue in 2014 that have taken on a unique significance in the last five to ten years.

1. Pluck the I out of your iPhone.

not invincibleThe advent of smart phones has introduced an unprecedented rate of interruption into our social interactions. Phones have made us selfish and inconsiderate in ways that used to be deemed boorish and uncultured.

Formerly, if someone walked up to you and began talking while you were already engaged in another conversation, that the person would be considered rude.

But this decade has made us feel rude for not replying instantly to any interruption that hails from our phone.

You know how frustrating it is to be halted mid-sentence by a text chime tone, only to have the person you were talking with treat the “What’s up?” ping as if it were a life-and-death enquiry. I understand if Jack Bauer asked me to hold my thought while he checked the text message from the President. But very few people work for CTU or are on call to intercept a terrorist attack.

Most people answer their phones for one reason only: they heard it “Ping.” How Pavlovian can you get?

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In Luke 2:14 the angels sang these words: “Glory to God in the highest heaven! Peace on earth to those whom he pleases.”

This week I heard a worship leader explain that the lyrics of “Joy to the World” only made sense within the concept of a future millenial kingdom–a time where Jesus reigned on earth, and the ground would refuse to allow sin and sorrow to grow on it. That got me thinking–what other Christmas promises are there that are realized in a future kingdom?

Then I came across a Christmas sermon from Spurgeon on the angel’s declaration in Luke 2:14. This is what he says, and it makes for a hopeful Christmas devotional:   Continue Reading…

How many times have you heard the Christmas story?  Probably dozens of times, if you’ve been in church for any length of time.  People  hear it year after year and everyone seems fairly familiar with it, so there’s always a little bit of pressure to make it fresh/interesting with either new details that may have been previously unknown or new angles that may give a previously unconsidered perspective.

Thinking of the “new details”, I remember when I was in my first or second year of Bible College and an upperclassman told me that the names of the three wise men were Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar (I’d always thought one of them was named “Frank”).  I looked at the upperclassman with shock and awe and immediately started flipping through my bible, wondering where in the Bible he found that amazing gem of insight!

Magician

In the following years, I’ve heard probably a dozen different versions of how many wise men there actually were and where they really came from…all of which were essentially guesses.  (Roman philosophers?  Indian Mystics?  Chinese Astrologers?  Ancient scientists following a UFO?  Yes, that’s a real theory that I’ve encountered…)  Most of the “new details” that I’ve encountered have been, well, questionable (to say the least). Continue Reading…

In preparation for my yearly resolution to read through the Bible (which often runs out of fuel at points and needs fresh motivation), I have begun to carbo-load on motivation by researching reading plans and getting poised for a good year of actually doing what I set out to do.

Lotito eating bicycle

I usually make ten resolutions with the hope of keeping about four. My theory is that’s better than making none or making four and keeping one.

Anyway, I came across this funny Frenchman who inspired me to keep nibbling at my old Bible reading plan until it is done. His name is Monsieur Mangetout (pronounced mun-jê-toot), which is a sobriquet meaning “Mr Eats it All.”

His real name is Michel Lotito (1950-2007). He made his living by entertaining people who were fascinated by what he could stomach. He could and did consume huge quantities of indigestible material, including metal, glass, and rubber. (Though he complained that eating hard-boiled eggs and bananas made him ill.)

In his illustrious career Mangetout downed (these figures might seem hard to swallow, but I’m really not making any of this up) …

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December 19, 2013

God with Us

by Nathan Busenitz

It is only 6 days until Christmas.

Visit your local coffee shop, take a trip to the mall, or just drive through your neighborhood at night, and it’s easy to see that the so-called “Christmas spirit” is alive and well in American culture.

Some of the ironies of our culture’s fascination with Christmas are especially evident where I live in Southern California.

• It hasn’t snowed in Los Angeles in years, but snowflake decorations are everywhere.

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Christian Fasting: it’s one of those “fringe” things in Christian belief that people are somewhat aware of but not a lot of people are clear about.  I’ve never actually heard any teaching on fasting from any church I’ve been a part of, and I suspect that’s a fairly typical experience of others.  Due to the lack of instruction I (and many of the people I know) have had, the ideas of fasting range from “something that happened in Jesus’ day that we don’t need to worry about” to “the secret to spiritual break through”.

fasting breakthrough

Both of these cannot be true.  If fasting is irrelevant, it’s not the secret to spiritual break through.  If it is the secret to spiritual break through, it’s hardly irrelevant! Continue Reading…