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Friday, December 22, 2006

A Sad State of Affairs

You can find in this New York Sun article the latest statistics from New York City in the year 2005 relating to birth rates. Last year there were 122,725 live births. There were also 88,891 abortions performed in New York City last year. This means that 42% of all known pregnancies ended in death.

In addition to this sad news, the referenced article above stated that of the 122,725, 44% of the children were born to unwed mothers. Furthermore, of the 122,725 births, 52% of them were paid for by Medicaid.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Mission of the Church?

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, issued a statement at the Newsweek/Washingpost On Faith Blog addressing the withdraw of some Episcopal Churches in Virginia from the oversight of the American Bishop.

The most disturbing aspect of her statement is the lack of a clear articulation of the reconciliation found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her assessment of the church's agenda of reconciliation seems only to address human-to-human relationships, and how we treat one another.

She says, "The Episcopal Church continues to focus on its mission of reconciling the world, particularly as it cares for the least, the lost, and the left out." Furthermore she states, "Our mission as a Church is the reconciliation of the world. We will continue to feed the hungry, house the homeless, educate children, heal the sick, minister to those in prison, and speak good news to those who have only heard the world's bad news."

Jesus, most assuredly speaks to man's obligation to love fellow man. But the reconciliation found in the gospel of Jesus Christ chiefly concerns itself with man's reconciliation with God. Sadly, nothing in this article comes close to saying just how one is reconciled with God. One would think if a Christian were speaking to the mission of the Christian Church, he or she would have to address man's reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps Romans 5:6-11 will clear the fog:
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Reflections from Romans 5:12-21

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men (Romans 5:12,18)."

Joy to the world! The Lord is come...Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns...Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy...No more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground; he (Jesus) comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found...Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare in room...Let men their songs employ...And heaven and nature sing...He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love (Isaac Watts, Joy to the World! The Lord is Come).

If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17)."

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth (Wesley & Whitefield, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing).

"...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21)."

Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord: Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice; tender to me the promise of his word; In God my Savior shall my heart rejoice...Tell out, my soul, the greatness of His name: Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done; his mercy sure, from age to age the same; his holy name, the Lord, the Mighty One...Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might: Powers and dominions lay their glory by...(Timothy Dudley-Smith, Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness).

Praying with my Children

As a parent of two young girls, I am trying to teach my children the importance of prayer. We traditionally pray before all our meals. We routinely pray each night before bedtime. We pray together with the sick when Lydia makes visits with me.

From time to time I reflect on how I might teach my daughters diverse ways in which we may pray to God. Since my three year absolutely loves Away in a Manger, we recently began praying the third verse with her. It not only is an excellent prayer for children, but also for adults. I have been praying it as well when I make petitions to God.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Girls Cont'

These pics come from Glen Royal BC this past weekend.

The Girls...

Lydia begged for us to put up the Christmas tree early, so for the first time ever, we set up the tree before Thanksgiving.

Christmas Music

I am one of those who loves to listen to and sing Christmas songs. In fact my entire family loves Christmas songs. We just recently purchased Third Day: Christmas Offerings, and it has not disappointed.

The album contains many classics such as O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and Away in a Manger. Of course all of these classics are set with a Third Day feel. In addition to the classics Third Day has written some original Christmas music as well.

Born In Bethlehem, Jesus, Light of the World, and Christmas Like a Child are all quality additions to the great extant collection of Christmas songs. Born in Bethlehem will most likely be selected for play in the congregational setting, however my favorite is Merry Christmas. This song addresses the adoption of a little girl, and how the little girl now has a home and a family with whom she can now celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Honoring My Grandmother

My Grandmother, Ruth Denton, has been a faithful member of Glen Royal Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC for many years now. She has been playing the piano at Glen Royal BC since 1963, and has rarely missed a Sunday Gathering, choir practice, funeral, or wedding. She is currently battling cancer, and taking both chemo and radiation, yet still continues to play the piano (well I might add) in worship every Sunday.

I had the honor to preach last Sunday at Glen Royal BC. This was a special service for me also, not only because we honored my grandmother, but also because many family members were present, and also because Glen Royal BC is the church where my introduction to the Christian faith began. I preached from Philippians 2:5-8 exhorting Christians to model the example of Christ to an unbelieving world.

We love you Grandma
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30