Links & Quotes

The seed your weakened hand is sowing
May ripen to a harvest broad,
Which yet may help, without your knowing,
To fill the granaries of God! —Margaret J. Prescott

My friend and podcast partner Greg Heeres talked about growing and learning through change. You can check out the rest of this episode of The Craig And Greg Show here.

Sometimes the prophetic language in the Bible can be a bit confusing. Like the phrase: “A time, times, and half a time.” Here is how Dr. Henry Halley unpacks this—

“It denotes the duration of the other horn of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:25). It denotes the period from Daniel to the time of the end (Daniel 12:6–7). It is used in Revelation 12:14 as identical to 42 months and to 1260 days (Revelation 11:2–3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), the period of time the Holy City was trampled, the two witnesses prophesied, the woman was in the wilderness, and the revived beast was on the throne. 

“The word ‘time,’ in the phrase ‘a time, times, and half a time’ is generally taken to mean year; the phrase thus means three and a half years, which is 42 months, or 1260 days. 

“By some, this is taken to refer to a literal three and a half years. Others, on the year-day interpretation (Numbers 14:34; Ezra 4:6), take it to be a period of 1260 years. Still others look upon the figures, not as defining time limits or periods, but as being symbolic: 7 Is the symbol of completeness, while three and a half, which is half of 7, represents incompleteness—that is, the reign of evil will be only temporary.” —Halley’s Study Bible (check out all of the biblical references in this quote by clicking here)

“Ambivalence toward the Law of God is troubling. Theologians discard the Law, and pastors either reject or neglect it. Jesus said that keeping and teaching the Law of God was a mark of Kingdom greatness (Matthew 5:17-19). Apparently that’s not a goal many of us aspire to. He also said that when the Law of God is neglected, love grows cold (Matthew 12:24). The ubiquitous lack of love in our world today is undoubtedly related to our failure to teach and live according to the Law of God. … 

“Pastors have three main resources for the work and business of ministry: The Word of God, prayer, and their personal example (Acts 6:4; 1 Peter 5:1-3). If any of these fails, their ministry will as well. Especially must pastors be seen to be men zealous for the Law of God, to obey all the counsel of the Lord in His Word and to resist the devil and overcome every temptation. Jesus did. Paul did. John said this is the way love flourishes (1 John 5:1-3). Throughout this generation, failures of obedience on the part of highly visible pastors have contributed to the Church’s becoming an object of scorn by many unbelievers, while believers have been largely silent about their failings. We must be diligent in obeying Christ if we would teach others to do so and thus fulfill our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God.” —T.M. Moore

New wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) analysis dates the Shroud of Turin to the first century.

Not all viruses need to be eliminated. A study has discovered 5500 new RNA viruses on the ocean, finding “an entire phylum, the Taraviricota . . . found all over the oceans, which suggests they’re ecologically important.” The Creator knew what He was doing!

The Gift At Work In Us

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week I said, “You are God’s gift to the world IF you are revealing God’s Gift to the world in everything you say and do.” 

That “IF” is a big one. 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I struggle with consistency in this! But before we all get frustrated, throw up our hands and say, “This is so hard! Why even try?” I’ve got a word of encouragement for you: God’s Gift in us is both perfect and being perfected. 

In order to explain this, I need to go back in time. In fact, I need to go all the way back to when Time began. The opening words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God the Father, the Nicene Creed says, is “the Maker of heaven and earth.” 

But God the Son is involved in Creation, as is God the Holy Spirit (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:2). Again, the Nicene Creed quotes John 1 about Jesus, “Through Him all things were made,” and the Creed also says the Holy Spirit is “the Giver of life.” 

So the Father created everything through His Word and by His Spirit. 

All of the Godhead is also involved in our salvation too. The Father loved us and gave us His Son. Jesus paid the price for our atonement and justified us with the Father. And the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father through the Son as He sanctifies us. 

The reason I said the Gift in us is both perfect and being perfected is because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” nothing was left to be done: it is a perfect Gift, fully paid for. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. … [But] by one sacrifice He [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:1, 14). 

Do you see those verb tenses? Jesus made our atonement perfect, but we are now being made holy by the Holy Spirit. 

The process of sanctification (or as I like to remember it: “saint-ification”) isn’t a one-and-done work. It’s an ongoing work. The Father wants us to remain IN Jesus and bear fruit, so the Holy Spirit remains IN us to bring out that fruitfulness (see John 14:16-17, 20; John 15:1-7). 

This is often an uncomfortable work. 

When I serve as a coach or a consultant, I tell people up front, “There is going to be a time that you won’t like me very much because I’m going to keep uncovering things that you’ve overlooked. It’s going to get uncomfortable before we see improvement. But if you will stick with me, I promise you that there will be a noticeable improvement on the other side of this uncomfortableness.” 

God disciplines those He loves. He wants His Son’s Gift to be seen by the world, so the Spirit must keep saint-ifying us. He will continue to hover over us, never letting us get complacent, vivifying us so that more and more of Jesus is increasingly seen in our lives. 

It’s going to get uncomfortable before we see improvement! 

So don’t lose heart. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let satan turn the Holy Spirit’s conviction into his condemnation. 

Instead, listen to this prayer from the apostle Paul and make it your own prayer—

For this reason we…have not ceased to pray and make special request for you, asking that you may be filled with the full, deep, and clear knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom—in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God, and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things. 

That you may walk, live, and conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition.

We pray that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance, and forbearance with joy, giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints—God’s holy people—in the Light. (Colossians 1:9-12 AMP) 

You are God’s gift to the world IF you are revealing God’s gift to the world in everything you say and do. The Gift in you has already been made perfect, and now the Holy Spirit is going to help you demonstrate this Gift more perfectly. Your fruitfulness is being made holy through His loving work in you. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series Christmas Unwrapped At Easter, you can find a list of all of the messages here. 

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Links & Quotes

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. This is another challenging word T.M. gives to pastor shepherds: “Shepherds and the sheep they serve stand together under the authority of God’s Word. But the shepherds have a greater obligation of study, learning, living, and disciple-making because God entrusts His sheep to their care (James 3:1). He intends that, by our teaching and example, His sheep should increase in eternal life. Let’s make sure our ministries are directed toward that end.” —T.M. Moore

More research showing just how dissimilar are the genes are between humans and chimpanzees. Humans are a unique creation just as every other speices of plant and animal are.

“Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness.” —F.B. Meyer

“It is a good thing to be engaged in holy work, but if you are in holy work before you are in the Lord, you will have no heart for it; neither will the Lord accept it! It is not essential that you should be in this church or in that church, but it is essential that you should be ‘in the Lord’!” —Charles Spurgeon 

Fight The New Drug shares 10 fast facts about the real effects of pornography.

In my “Best of…” post this week, I share a conversation with a new Christian about church infighting, and the resulting poem. Check out Brothers And Sisters The Same.

The Babylon Bee always cracks me up! For those of you who know the story of Abraham and Issac, this (ahem!) alternative story is quite a hoot!

Links & Quotes

I love the humanitarian work of Convoy of Hope wherever there is a need. They are on the front lines of Ukraine right now. If you are looking for a good organization to support financially, please check out their current efforts and click the Donate button on their page.

“[God] does not need us. If we stay away He is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But He magnifies His mercy by giving us free access through His Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, Himself. ‘You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11).” —John Piper 

“Good preachers are good learners, and not just of the Scriptures. They need to understand the times and the ways the times impact the people they are called to serve. Preachers who know their sheep well, as our Good Shepherd exemplified for us, will hear their concerns, understand their thoughts, discern their hopes and fears, and be able to preach in a way that speaks directly to their souls with transforming grace and power. Let us strive to be sons of Issachar when it comes to the ministry of God’s Word.” —T.M. Moore 

I love the Babylon Bee! Here is something that should make every pastor say, “Aha!”—Scholars Discover Introductory Notes To Paul’s Epistles That Dismissed The Children To Youth Ministry So The Adults Could Hear The Message

This week I shared another exclusive video with my Patreon supporters. Please consider supporting this ministry at just $5 per month. I also shared this public video especially for my fellow pastors:

John Stonestreet wrote about our amazing brain. What a marvelous thing our Creator has given us! Here is just one example: “In 2013, a collaboration between Japanese and German scientists created one of the most realistic brain simulations ever attempted. They used what was, at that time, the world’s fourth-largest computer, containing over 700,000 processor cores and producing an eye-popping 1.4 million gigabytes of RAM. The machine worked at top speed, crunching numbers for over 40 minutes. In the end, it produced just one second of simulated brain activity.”

Book Reviews From 2021

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2021. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

24

AC/DC

Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible

George Whitefield

Hal Moore On Leadership

His Last Bow

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

How Christianity Changed The World

How I Got This Way

How To Bring Men To Christ

Jesus On Trial

John Adams

Miracles Out Of Somewhere

My Lucky Life

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

Pilgrim’s Progress

Prayer

Prophet With A Pen

QB

Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers

Secrets Of Dynamic Communication

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Shepherd Leadership

Star Struck

Talking To GOATs

That Hideous Strength

The Art Of Writing And The Gift Of Writers

The Hidden Smile Of God

The Hiding Place

Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

To The Work!

Voice Of A Prophet

Washington’s Immortals

Word-For-Word Bible Comic: Jonah

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

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11 Quotes And 7 Astronomical Tidbits From “Star Struck”

Star Struck by Dr. David Bradstreet is an insightful book for astronomical issues, but I found it lacking in the way he missed multiple opportunities to use the mind-boggling discoveries in astronomy to point to a majestic Creator. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Those who study the stars have God for a teacher.” —Tycho Brahe, a sixteenth-century astronomer 

“Almost all ancient civilizations believed that the universe had existed forever. Throughout the ancient world there was just one civilization that didn’t subscribe to this cyclical vision of eternity. Jewish Scripture, with the story of the Creation, stated clearly that the world had a beginning.” —Martin Gorst, historian 

“Science is great as science, but it makes a lousy religion.” —Guy Consolmagno 

“The atoms that so liberally and congenially flock together to form living things on Earth are exactly the same atoms that decline to do it elsewhere.” —Bill Bryson 

“Eratosthenes of Alexandria (276–194 BC) “did the math, concluding that the earth was 24,662 miles around. His results were shockingly accurate: within 1 percent of our current estimate of 24,859 miles.” —Dr. David Bradstreet 

“The sun is so powerful that we sometimes must shield ourselves from its heat, even after that heat has taken an eight-minute journey to earth, losing a third to half of its radiant energy to the protective atmosphere of our clouds. ‘Nothing is deprived of its warmth,’ says the psalmist (Psalm 19:6).” —Dr. David Bradstreet 

“I wanted to become a theologian. For a long time I was restless. Now, however, behold how through my effort God is being celebrated in astronomy.” —Johannes Kepler 

“Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“If we study science without Scripture, we risk falling into the ditch of atheistic evolutionism; on the other hand, the study of Scripture separated from God’s laws in nature risks ideologies that misinterpret God and distort His character.” —Timothy Jennings 

“Holy Scripture and nature are both emanations from the divine Word.” —Galileo 

“God cannot be reduced to the role of a scientific hypothesis.” —Father Georges Lemaître 

Interesting astronomical tidbits: 

  1. Unlike everyone else in the neighborhood, Venus rotates backwards. 
  2. Jupiter rotates on its axis in slightly less than ten hours, faster than on any other planet. 
  3. Saturn is twice as far away from the sun, lowering its temperature and stretching out its orbital period to nearly thirty Earth years. 
  4. Neptune is so far away that it takes 164 years to orbit the Sun. 
  5. Uranus’ North Pole is tipped a whopping 98 degrees to its orbital plane. 
  6. Every day our powerful atmospheric shield hijacks some 100 tons of small rocks and other pieces of space stuff heading our way, breaking up and incinerating everything before it can hit us. 
  7. Our own Milky Way galaxy is home to more than 200 billion stars. There are more than 200 billion additional galaxies in the cosmos. These galaxies serve as gigantic star factories, each of which has its own 100 to 300 billion stars. Do the math and the numbers are mind-boggling: our Sun is merely one among some 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.

Star Struck (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Because of my science background, I’m always fascinated by the discoveries of scientists that bring glory to God. So I was drawn in especially by the subtitle of Dr. David Bradstreet’s book Star Struck: Seeing The Creator in the Wonders of Our Cosmos.

This book is part autobiographic in how Dr. Bradstreet got into astronomy, part historical as he walks us through the advancements in the study of the heavens, and part devotional as he attempts to tie in biblical passages with these fascinating astronomical discoveries. But for me, this attempt to be all-encompassing didn’t “scratch the itch” that I thought it would when I first saw the subtitle. I think I would have appreciated it more if this were presented as three books: memoir, history, and devotional. 

For me, the best part of Star Struck was the history of astronomy. Hearing from an astronomer how his predecessors thought, reasoned, hypothesized, and then presented their findings to an often skeptical world (and usually an even more skeptical church) was quite fascinating. I especially enjoyed some of the many tidbits about stars and planets, particularly the look at our Sun, Earth, and Moon. 

I would not, however, recommend this book as a means to understand how astronomy shines such a clear light on the majesty of the Creator seen in the pages of the Bible, as I found that attempt quite lacking. 

As a pure astronomy history book, Star Struck is a great read for anyone, from students to adults. 

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Poetry Saturday—The Church A Garden

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Christ hath a garden walled around,
A Paradise of fruitful ground,
Chosen by love and fenced by grace
From out the world’s wide wilderness.

Like trees of spice His servants stand,
There planted by His mighty hand;
By Eden’s gracious streams, that flow
To feed their beauty where they grow.

Awake, O wind of heav’n and bear
Their sweetest perfume through the air:
Stir up, O south, the boughs that bloom,
Till the beloved Master come:

That He may come, and linger yet
Among the trees that He hath set;
That He may evermore be seen
To walk amid the springing green. —Isaac Watts

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You Are A Unique Masterpiece

The Bible uses two phrases that we don’t typically use today: “the horn of the wicked” and “the horn of the righteous.” 

A horn in Hebrew literature is a symbol of strength. The wicked blow their own horn—trumpeting how they are self-made people. Obviously, this God-ignoring arrogance isn’t something God can bless! 

What about “the horn of the righteous”? Is there a way to blow our horn so that God is glorified? In a word: Yes!

Check out this short 2-minute video to hear how I describe the right and wrong ways to honor your uniqueness by blowing a righteous, God-honoring horn…

Always remember this—You are God’s grace gift to the world, so you must always strive to blow a God-honoring horn! 

If you would like to check out some of the other thoughts I shared about our horns, please click here. 

Nature Walk

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

How many are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. (Psalm 104:24-25) 

This psalm makes me want to go on a nature walk! 

The psalmist is in awe of the Creator’s handiwork—from the majestic sun and moon, to the smallest of creatures, God created them and sustains them all. 

God set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.  … He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of His work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth. … The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. … The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. … These all look to You to give them their food at the proper time. When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 

Take a walk. See God’s beauty.

Listen to the wind, the birds, the lions.

Taste the food from the soil and the trees.

Feel the coolness of the water, the warmth of the sun, the invigoration of the breeze. 

Smell the flowers, the soil, the sea air.

And then as you take all of these in, remind yourself: “If God cares for the fields, if He sees the smallest sparrow, how much more does He care for me!” 

Jesus told us much the same thing—

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you? … Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. … Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, 26, 28-30; 10:29-31)  

My friend, the next time you need reassurance of God’s love for you, I invite you to take a nature walk and let the beauty of the Creator fill you with confidence of His love for you and His power to care for your every need! 

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