Only Enough Grace for Today

Sunrise over rocksGod promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” ( 2 Cor 12:9 ESV). God will give you all the grace you need for today. However, Jesus also told his disciples, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34 NASB).

God will give you all the grace you need to do what must be done today. The weaker you become, the more God will increase your grace. We can say with Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

When we are weak, however, we still feel weak. Our problems stretch on throughout the foreseeable future with no end in sight. We must remember that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23), but we only have enough for today. Don’t worry about tomorrow; you have enough to do today. Trust God even when you’re falling apart, and your spirit will be renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16).

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The World Saw You Celebrate

Back in 2008, a Chinese church did a series of man-on-the-street interviews asking “What is Christmas?” and “Who is Jesus?” The resulting five-minute video is worth taking a look.

If you went to any mall in the US three weeks ago and asked “What does Christmas mean for you?”, I think the answers given would convince you that the Chinese pretty much understand Christmas as it is celebrated in the West. The world sees what we do, not what we say we believe.

The world was watching this holiday season, and I’m not so sure they have stopped looking yet.

MACP Audio Now Online

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary has now made the audio of this year’s Mid-America Conference on Preaching available for free download.

The conference theme for this year was “The Mystery of Christ: God’s Glory among the Gentiles.” The online resources include MP3 audio files of all general sessions and workshops, along with PDF files of all workshop notes. Presentations cover two primary areas: (1) Dispensational-Theological Issues; and (2) Preaching-Church Ministry Issues. Digital resources from previous conferences are also available online.

Free Jerry Bridges E-Book

Amazon is giving away free downloads of Jerry Bridges’ new book, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia (NavPress 2012). The free download is a kindle edition, but you can read it on your PC or tablet with amazon’s free software. Here’s what the back cover has to say:

Fellowship among believers is more than just talking over coffee after church service. Biblical fellowship in New Testament times—or koinonia—had rich and varied meanings, including covenant relationship, partnership in the gospel, communion with God and others, and the sharing of earthly possessions.

In True Community, best-selling author Jerry Bridges (The Pursuit of Holiness, Respectable Sins, Trusting God) explores koinonia and the practical implications it has for today’s church. With discussion questions at the end of each chapter, this book will help you dig deeper into what Christian community in the twenty-first century should look like. You will come away with a new appreciation for fellowship, the church, and what God intended the body of Christ to be.

I haven’t read my copy yet, but I expect it to be an interesting and edifying read. Get yours while it’s free.

 

Free Martin Luther Audiobook

In honor of Reformation Day, Christian Audio is giving away free downloads of Martin Luther: In His Own Words. This free offer will be available until October 31st.

The audio book is a short (2.75 hrs) collection of Martin Luther’s writings. Included are some of his most significant works such as the Small Catechism, 95 Theses, On Faith and Coming to Christ, On Confession and the Lord’s Supper, Of the Office of Preaching, Excerpt from Luther’s Tower Experience, and the Last Written Words of Luther.

If you have never read these works, it would be well worth your time to pick up this free download and listen to it in your car this week. Perhaps it will give you an occasion to start an evangelistic conversation on this year’s Reformation Day, October 31st.

The Forgery of Jesus’s Wife?

It’s looking more and more like the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is a forgery. Andrew Bernhard has discovered what appears to be evidence of a forger accidentally perpetuating a typo that first originated in an online edition of the Gospel of Thomas. His preliminary report is available at his website. More details are available here.

Even if the document isn’t a forgery, it is still wrought with problems. However, with so many key words like Mary, wife, and disciple all in an area smaller than a business card, the find does seem a little too good to be true for those trying to find evidence that Jesus was married. It seems that the scholarly community will soon reject it as a fraud.

Should Churches Pay Taxes?

The Inspiring Body of Christ Church in Dallas, TX, operates the world’s largest privately-owned aquarium. The tank, which cost $4.7 million to build, is stocked with over $100,000 worth of exotic fish. Also in Dallas (perhaps everything just really is bigger in Texas), First Baptist Church announced a $130 million renovation plan in 2009 for their downtown campus. Of course, they’re not alone. American churches generally spend a huge percentage of their budgets on buildings.

I’m not against church buildings. Churches can often minister more effectively with a nice campus. However, lavish building programs can also be counterproductive sometimes. I’ve been told by several pastors that their churches were cutting back on missions because they bit off more than they could chew in a building program.

Whenever a church spends a lot of money on its building, inevitably somebody starts complaining about churches not paying taxes. The argument goes, “Since churches have enough money to build something like that, they ought to have enough money to pay taxes.” One group of researchers recently estimated that the U.S. could raise $71 billion a year by taxing churches.

This argument is generally a thin cover for an anti-Christian rant. Those arguing that churches should pay taxes aren’t willing to see all non-profit organizations pay taxes. You want to build a $4.7 million aquarium for the community? Great, here’s your 501c3. You want to spend a $130 million on an educational center? Wonderful, don’t worry about taxes. You want to put them in a church? Better pay Uncle Sam your fair share.

If we are going to have freedom of religion in this country, we have to be willing to let churches spend money on whatever they want–even if we think their choices to be wasteful. Should we start making churches pay taxes? I’m actually fine with that…just as long as every other nonprofit organization is taxed on an equal basis.