Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cross Eyed - Life - Dr Arturo Azurdia III

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,Look full in His wonderful face,And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,In the light of His glory and grace.

Art Azurdia Cross Eyed Life Sermon Jam from Josh Gunter on Vimeo.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Evangelist Slams Priest for 'Pulpit Betrayal'

MEDIA ADVISORY, Dec. 28 /Christian Newswire/ -- An Anglican priest in the northern English city of York told his parishioners that poor people struggling to survive should steal food and other essentials from shops, rather than raise money through prostitution, burglary or mugging.

Best-selling author and evangelist, Ray Comfort, said, "What may sound like compassion is actually pulpit betrayal. Rather than a sermon telling his hearers to steal from businesses, he should be telling them to take what they need from his own church's collection plate. If he didn't do that because his church is feeling the economic pinch, that brings into question his motive. If his parishioners take his advice and his weekly collection increases, he is benefiting from the crime he instigated and therefore complicit to it. The question also arises as to whether or not the priest personally practices what he preaches. Does he himself shoplift? If he doesn't, he's a hypocrite. If he does, then he's a criminal. If he says that he doesn't need to shoplift because he is financially sound, then he should be giving to his poor folks, rather than making them into thieves."

Britain's Daily Mail reported, "He told parishioners it would not break the eighth commandment 'thou shalt not steal' because it 'is permissible for those who are in desperate situations to take food that they might not starve.' The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that he said, "'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,' he told his stunned congregation at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York."

Comfort said, "The twisted advice of the Reverend is nothing new. The religious leaders at the time of Christ also perverted the Ten Commandments. In Matthew 15 they changed the Fifth so that they didn't have to honor their father and mother, and they even tried to soften the Seventh. But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned that God considers lust to be adultery of the heart.

"This all comes from something called 'idolatry,' which is the sin of making a god in your own image. Once you do that, anything goes. The Bible says that if you steal, even in the case of dire need, you pay back seven-fold. Sex becomes okay "if you love someone." Lying becomes morally okay if they are lies that don't "hurt" anyone. Adultery becomes acceptable if the marriage is boring, and the murder of children in the womb is permitted if a pregnancy is an inconvenience. But the Bible is clear that all liars, adulterers, murderers and thieves will end up in Hell."

The Rev. Jones added, "I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither." He said that people shouldn't steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses.
Comfort, who spent a lot of his time feeding the homeless in Los Angeles' infamous McArthur Park, said, "This is what happens when unconverted men go into the ministry. Many of today's preachers should have been plumbers, motivational speakers or bankers, rather than what the Bible calls 'preachers of righteousness.' The moral Law is meant to show us that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. The Ten Commandments don't need changing. We do. We may change them to suit ourselves, but they will still be the standard of judgment on Judgment Day. God wrote them in stone for a reason."

He Calls You to Another way - John Piper

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:16-17

Friday, December 25, 2009

Arabic Christmas Carol

This is a great video of an Arabic Christmas Carol. It brings together things that don’t seem to fit and yet are true of our Savior. Certainly some of you will watch this and think that this could never happen, that God could never do this – you may even think it is blasphemy. I simply ask each of you to remember that God is God and he is in the heavens and does as he pleases. Who are we to tell him what he can and cannot do? Then consider how utterly unique Jesus Christ is in his birth (who else can claim to be born of a virgin?!).



From the blog "His Peace Upon Us"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Glory to God in the Hghest - Sovereign Grace Ministries

Hear the angels sing of the King of kings
Who made Himself poor
See the mystery and the majesty
The Creator is born
Oh the Maker became a man
Let us sing what the angels sang

Glory to God in the highest
Glory to God in the highest
Our hope has appeared
God has drawn near
Glory to God alone

See the One who spans the heavens with His hand
With fingers so small
See this babe so poor all of heaven adores
He’s the ruler of all
Let us worship our humble King
Adoration we humbly bring

MP3 here
Find the guitar chords here.

Words and music by Stephen Altrogge
As recorded on Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

The Real Christmas Story - John MacArthur

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, And the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory as the only begotton from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1 and 14

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Disturbing Christmas - CJ Mahaney - Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog

William H. Smith said the following "Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims."

Read the entire blog post here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christ is All - Valley of Vision

May I read the meltings of thy heart to me
in the manger of thy birth,
in the garden of thy agony,
in the cross of thy suffering,
in the tomb of thy resurrection,
Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.
Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship
to thee,
as spiritual bridegroom,a
s Jehovah's fellow,as sinners' friend.
I think of thy glory and my vileness,
thy majesty and my meanness,
thy beauty and my deformity,
thy purity and my filth,
thy righteousness and my iniquity,
Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given thyself for me,
may I give myself to thee;
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never dally with the world
and its allurements,
but walk by thy side,
listen to thy voice,
be clothed with thy graces,
and adorned with thy righteousness.
AMEN

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Conversation Overheard

The following is portions of a conversation overheard.. What was the conversation about?

  • Man we really rock out there.
  • We have a free concert every Sunday.
  • We have smoke and lights and everything...it’s awesome!
  • I am so proud of my dad. He used to set in the back near the door but now he is up front setting in the middle so he can see the band.
  • The guy that talks is really cool. He tells us we should do good things but he never does them himself.

So if your guess was church, well that’s what they call it, you would be correct. The question is, is this church?

The church is not a building or a place. It’s a simply God’s people. When God’s people gather to worship, that is worship God, that is church. You see the people in the conversation above were not describing their church but their worship.

So what should church look like when God’s people gather to worship Him?

  • Reverence – Leviticus 19:30, Hebrews 12:28
  • Founded upon and completely focused on God and His Word. 1Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 96:9, Psalms 99:9, John 4:23, Revelation 15:4
  • Confession of faith with fellow believers. Nehemiah 9:3, Philippians 2:11
  • Singing of God’s holiness, His attributes and His greatness through the hymns of the faith that have been handed down through the ages. Why? Because God is truly “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes”. Because God is “Holy, Holy Holy,” our Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Because it is right and fitting that our souls should praise the King of Heaven. He is worthy of all our praise because He is “Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor”. Psalms, Ephesians 5:19,
  • The reading of scripture. Nehemiah 8,
  • God’s word preached from a man of God. Preached the way God wrote it, book by book, chapter by chapter and word by word. Why is this important? Because we are in a spiritual battle, and because Satan hates us and will do anything he can to try to take our faith from us. Acts 8:30-39, Galatians 1:11, 2 Timothy 4:2
  • Serious prayer, seeking God for His help and wisdom in these dark times, for the needs of the congregation and for the witness of the fellowship in the community. 1 Thessalonians 3:10, Luke 21:36, Matthew 26:41,
  • Evangelism and outreach. Romans 1:16-17

    Okay, now take an honest look at both types of worship. The first is man centered and the second is God centered. Now, when it comes to church which one is real?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Will Cost You Everything! You Must Surrender to Christ

What does it cost you to follow Christ? Everything. Steve Lawson preaches on Luke 14 on the Cost of Discipleship.

To follow Christ as a disciple means:

1. You cleave to Him in believing trust.
2. You follow His leading and act according to His example.
3. You practice self denial.
4. You fellowship in faith, life, suffering, cross and share His entire moral life.

Have you come to saving faith?



Please visit the I'll Be Honest, Will You? website.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Valley of Vision - Praise and Thanksgiving - read by Bill Lawless

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and Devotions. You can listen here.

O My God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow. When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness. I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barrens soil; for the body thou has given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing sense to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly. I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures. Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity. Often I find the prayers of such a Puritan expressing my heart in a more suitable manner than I ever could. Meditating on such little prayers often cause one to find more "meat" for thought than most sermons today. O for ten thousand tongues to sing of the ten thousand pleasures He brings!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Il Divo - Amazing Grace

A great song sung by the amazing operatic quartet Il Divo. Awesome setting, awesome bag pipes, awesome voices, AMAZING GRACE!

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.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Strong Doctrine Guards Against Idolatry

The cross has become a very common image nowadays. You see it in the home displayed on walls as art, on tee-shirts, the back pocket of tattered jeans. It’s become a sort of fashion statement. It’s been trivialized to the point that the true meaning of the cross has become meaningless. The people who wear it give no thought at all to what happened on the cross, or that the cross was not a thing of beauty but an instrument of death. It was where Jesus Christ the Savior, my Savior, was killed.

It was my very own sin that made the cross necessary. For my sake God made Jesus, who knew no sin, a sacrifice, so that through Jesus I can know forgiveness of sin. What happened on the cross was horrifying. It’s not art and it certainly is not a fashion statement.

Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

I found the following on Tony Reinke’s blog Miscellanies:

For the first four centuries of the church as “religion was still flourishing, and a purer doctrine thriving, Christian churches were commonly empty of images”. As soon as images were installed in churches they led to idolatry, “For men’s folly cannot restrain itself from falling headlong into superstitious rites”. The doctrine of the Cross is our instruction. Sinners are driven towards images and idols only when the doctrines of the Gospel are not made clear. “But whence, I pray you, this stupidity if not because they are defrauded of that doctrine which alone was fit to instruct them?” Indeed it is a good reminder that when crowds gather around icons and symbols that they arrive only because the true gospel has been withheld. Calvin says it so well,
“What purpose did it serve for so many crosses – of wood, stone, silver, and gold – to be erected here and there in churches, if this fact had been duly and faithfully taught: that Christ died on the cross to bear our curse, to expiate our sins by the sacrifice of his body, to wash them by his blood, in short, to reconcile us to God the Father? From this one fact they could have learned more than from a thousand crosses of wood or stone”.

Remember Calvin in this part of the Institutes is telling us how we can know God. Time and time again Calvin points us back to Scripture as the only sure guide to know Him. When the message of the Cross is gone, the vacuum it creates fills in with images and superstitions. Resorting to visual images in worship is a sure sign that the message of the Cross is no longer central. This is the big danger.

In all of this, it’s clear that Calvin sees venerated religious images as the fruit of idolatrous minds and the adoration and veneration of the icons, statues, and special crosses as nothing other than “fornications with wood and stone”. Beware of the “image fighters” who think Christian devotion rests upon paintings, crucifixes, statues and special crosses. Seek the display of God’s glory in his Word alone. Life comes by the faith in the Cross not the sight of crosses.

Icons are most necessary when the preaching of the gospel has been made unnecessary. We will not bow and adore images if the preaching of the gospel is strong. When preachers move away from the content of Scripture in sermons they move towards their own mentally carved image of God.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!
One in himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by his blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God

Music by Vikki Cook
Lyrics by Charitie Bancroft
As recorded on Depth of Mercy

Guitar Chords
MP3 Purchase

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Sword of the Spirit - Ephesians 6:10-20

Today's program is a sermon, part 2, delivered by Bill Lawless at Grace Covenant Church of Midland, Texas. The focus of this message is ver 17b.

We live in a time when bible study has been reduced to the reading of a book written by someone other than God. Nowadays in times of crisis we run to the self help books, Oprah or Dr. Phil. We live in a time when people who call themselves Christian find themselves defeated at every turn. Why? Because we are not using the most powerful weapon there is, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We don’t use it because we do not know it.

Application:

Back to the beginning, where we started. We don’t use the sword because we don’t know our sword. Beloved, there are no excuses for not knowing how to use your bible. None! 5 Things:

1. Read your bible – This should be obvious and certainly the least that you should be doing. Do you read your bible? God speaks to us through His Word, we should regard every occasion of reading or studying that Word as an encounter with God Himself. This needs to land on us and impact us. We have the words of God right here. The creator of all that exist gave us a book so that we can know who He is. So we can know who we are and so we can know His Son Jesus Christ is. Knowing God’s word starts here.

2. Study your bible – Reading your bible is not enough. To know it requires study. Its important that we know what God’s word means. Don’t ask “What does it mean to me”. That’s point 4. Taking into consideration the 5 Ws. Who, What, Whan, Where and Why. Seek to understand what the bible means. Beloved we are so fortunate to have a pastor that wants us to understand what the bible means and takes us book by book and chapter by chapter and verse by verse.

3. Meditate on God’s word – This is not setting on the floor with your legs crossed contmplating you navel. Far from it.

J. I. Packer writes in his book Knowing God: “Meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us—‘comfort’ us in the old, strong Bible sense of the word—as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Psalms 1:2-4, Psalms 4:3-5, Psalms 63:5-7, Psalms 19:24

4. Apply God’s word – Now you can ask the question “What does it mean to me” Think about it, it makes sence. You have to know what it means before you can apply God’s word properly. If we don’t apply God’s word to our lives then we may as well be reading People Magizine instead.James 1:22-25 - 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

5. Give God’s word to someone else – This may be anything from sharing your faith to providing comfort to someone in need.

Its only when we read God’s word, study God;s word, meditate on God’s word, apply God’s word and give God’s word that we will be able to use “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God effectively and experience victory over tempation and comfort in times of trials.

Sinclair Ferguson wrote, “It is only as Christ’s words remain in us and we remain in Him that we will be delivered from the rootless Christianity so characteristic of our times. As His word influences us, we begin to bear fruit and prove to be His disciples. (John 15:5-8) Only as God’s Word makes its impact on the way we think, live, and feel will we develop hearts that are characterized by obedience to God and filled with love for Him.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Josiah Grauman Story (John MacArthur)

If I can’t trust the Bible fully then I cant trust what the Bible says about God...God is absolutely sovereign, He does His will, everything fits into His purpose, it can never be thwarted, it can never be altered.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Daughter's Baptism

I don’t remember the moment that I was saved, I was unaware, at the time of my salvation, that God was working in me. It was something that I later realized had happened.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents raised us to know the word of God and the gospel. I learned to read through scriptures my dad would have my brother and I read, write, and recite. The image of the easel with the large notebook in the living room will always resonate in my mind. Although, I knew and could remember scripture, I never GOT it. As a small child I did not understand the fact that I was not a good person, but in fact a sinner. I remember telling my parents as a 5 or 6 year old that I was ready to be baptized. Was I?

In junior high, I attended Disciple Now. I went mostly for the social aspect. At the end of the weekend they ask who wants to be baptized. I barely remember this, but know that because my friends were raising their hands, that I better. I went through the motions, but honestly barely remember it and know that I had no clue what was going on, it was not genuine.

Fast forward many years to age 24. I was a teacher in Odessa. That year, Brandon, a precious little boy in my class, whom I loved, was hit by a car. Brandon was in the hospital in a coma for one week before he passed away. That week, for the most part, was a blur. I was traveling every day, helping his parents to understand medically what was going on with him, loving his family, encouraging and being there for the other kids in my class, and thinking. The thinking is what I remember most.

I realized that I was responsible and held accountable for my choices, my decisions, my faith. I had lost faith in God. I was lost. I believe that God is all sovereign and that we are also held accountable for our actions. It was during this time of going through losing Brandon, that I was saved. I accepted Jesus as The Christ, the son of God. Jesus Christ walked this earth, sinless, and his life was sacrificed for me. I am thankful for his blood, his mercy, and his grace.

I now live my life striving to more like Christ, in my marriage, my mothering, my teaching, my friendships, and also would like to show Christ to other people, who don’t necessarily know me, but see Him through Me. Today I would like to publicly confess my faith in God and announce my salvation. I am a child of God! “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

video

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Minimal Morality? Just go back to the world! - Tim Conway

Quit playing this idiotic game...you are in the world or you are in Christ Jesus. Stop playing the game, how close can I get to the edge and still be a Christian.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Great Day - Pressing On Blog - Morris Brooks

What a great day we had today, Sunday, August 16th, 2009. We had our first baptismal service today. We baptized three young ladies, young mothers, young wives; all of whom gave great testimonies to the grace of God in their lives. What a joy, both as their pastor and as a fellow believer, to share in their joy on this occasion. Read on

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Call to Wonder - Paul Washer

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
Revelation 4:11 ESV

Friday, July 31, 2009

Persecution: A price to pay for being a Christian?

Two years ago at the Shepherd's Conference Dr. Daniel Wong gave his testimony of Dr Daniel Wong. Dr. Wong is a professor at The Master's College, who faced persecutions as a Christian first hand from Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in China.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Mighty Fortress is Our God - Ephesians 6:10-20

New audio blog entry over at Impact Midland.

Today's program is a sermon delivered by Bill Lawless at Grace Covenant Church of Midland, Texas.

To be sure the Christian that lives chapters Ephesians 4 through 6, a faithful life, will encounter spiritual warfare. There will be battles. The reality presented in Paul’s letter is that as believers, we are in Christ and one with Him. His life is our life, His power is our power, His truth is our truth, His way is our way and here we will see that His strength is our strength.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Monday, June 22, 2009

O thou giving God - The Valley of Vision

O thou giving God

My heart is drawn out in thankfulness to thee,
for thy amazing grace and condescension to me
in influences and assistances of thy Spirit,
for special help in prayer,
for the sweetness of Christian service,
for the thoughts of arriving in heaven,
for always sending me needful supplies,
for raising me to new life when I am
like one dead.
I want not the favour of man to lean upon
for thy favour is infinitely better.
Thou art eternal wisdom in dispensations
towards me;
and it matters not when, nor where, nor how
I serve thee,
nor what trials I am exercised with,
if I might but be prepared for thy work and will.
No poor creature stands in need of divine grace
more than I do,
And yet none abuses it more than I have done,
and still do.
How heartless and dull I am!
Humble me in the dust for not loving thee more.
Every time I exercise any grace renewedly
I am renewedly indebted to thee,
the God of all grace, for special assistance.
I cannot boast when I think how dependent
I am upon thee for the being and every act
of grace;
I never do anything else but depart from thee,
and if ever I get to heaven it will be because
thou willest it, and for no reason beside.
I love, as a feeble, afflicted, despised creature,
to cast myself on thy infinite grace and goodness,
hoping for no happiness but from thee;
Give me special grace to fit me for special services,
and keep me calm and resigned at all times,
humble, solemn, mortified,
and conformed to thy will.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Few - Piper/Washer/Ravenhill/Conway/Leiter

Matthew 7:21-23

I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’


The Few from I'll Be Honest on Vimeo.

What is being preached at your church?

http://illbehonest.com/
http://bloodtippedears.blogspot.com/
http://www.gccsatx.com/

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hell is Necessary - Tim Conway

Jjohn 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.


Hell is Necessary - Tim Conway - Sermon Jam from I'll Be Honest on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sustained by Sovereign Grace—Forever! by John Piper

Not grace to bar what is not bliss,
Nor flight from all distress, but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain,
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain.

Jeremiah 32:36-41
Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, "It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence," 37 "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul." 42 For thus says the Lord, "Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them."
Four Promises of Sovereign, Sustaining Grace

1. God Will Be Our God
God promises to be our God. Verse 38: "They will be my people and I will be their God." All the promises to his people are summed up in this: "I will be your God." That is, I will use all that I am as God—all my wisdom, all my power, and all my love—to see to it that you remain my people. All that I am as God, I exert for your good.

2. God Promises to Change Our Hearts
God promises to change our hearts and cause us to love and fear him. Verse 39: "I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me always . . . (v. 40b) I will put the fear of me in their hearts." In other words, God will not simply stand by to see if we, by our own powers, will fear him; he will sovereignly, supremely, mercifully give us the heart that we need to have, and give us the faith and the fear of God that will lead us home to heaven. This is sovereign, sustaining grace. (See Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:27.)

3. God Promises We Will Not Turn Away from Him
God promises that he will not turn away from us and we will not turn away from him. Verse 40: "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me." In other words, his heart work is so powerful that he guarantees we will not turn from him. This is what's new about the new covenant: God promises to fulfill by his power the conditions that we have to meet. We must fear him and love him and trust him. And he says, I will see to that. I will "put the fear of me in their hearts"—not to see what they will do with it, but in such a way that "they will not turn from me." This is sovereign, sustaining grace.

4. God Promises to Do This with Infinite Intensity
Finally, God promises to do this with the greatest intensity imaginable. He expresses this in two ways, one at the beginning and one at the end of verse 41: "And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul." First he says that he will exert this sovereign, sustaining grace with joy: "I will rejoice over them to do them good." Then he says (at the end of verse 41) that he will exert this sovereign, sustaining grace "with all [his] heart and with all [his] soul."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Matt Chandler - Jesus Wants the Rose

The gospel matters. Getting the gospel right matters. If you get the gospel wrong and you don’t distinguish between what the gospel is and what morality is, then what you’ve done at best is restrain the hearts of people, but you won’t see their hearts transformed. If you don’t get the gospel right, you will inoculate your people to Jesus.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Death is not dying - Rachael Barkey

On March 4, 2009, Rachel had an opportunity to share about her hope in the midst of terminal cancer. What began as a small talk to her church women’s group became an event attended by over 600 women and was an experience that left many with a desire to discover more about Rachel’s journey and faith.Watch Rachel share her story of trusting God in the face of death. "Cancer does not define me," she says. "Neither does being a wife or a mother. All these things are part of who I am but they do not define me. What defines me is my relationship with Jesus."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pursuit of God - A. W. Tozer

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.

I am ashamed of my lack of desire.O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing,I thirst to be made more thirsty still.

Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away."

Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Lord, I would trust Thee completely; I would be altogether Thine;I would exalt Thee above all.
I desire that I may feel no sense of possessing anything outside of Thee.

I want constantly to be aware of Thy overshadowing presence and to hear Thy speaking voice.
I long to live in restful sincerity of heart.

I want to live so fully in the Spirit that all my thoughts may be as sweet incense ascending to Thee and every act of my life may be an act of worship.

Therefore, I pray in the words of Thy great servant of old, "I beseech Thee so for to cleanse the intent of mine heart with the unspeakable gift of Thy grace, that I may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee."

And all this I confidently believe Thou wilt grant me through the merits of Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.

Picture from the Grace Community Church web site

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Daddy's Hands - Jim Lawless Nov 1928 / May 2003


I want to share a poem my sister wrote shortly after my Daddy died. What was captured in words is a precious moment between a Son and his Daddy. The warmth of his hand gave a sense of security... eventhough he would soon draw his last breath. I was the one holding his hand as he slipped from the arms of his loving family into the arms of our Heavenly Father. My Daddy's hands were important...not just to me and my sisters and Mom but to those he spent tireless hours ministering to. Oh how I miss him ! My heart has such peace in knowing that I will one day see him again...What a sweet day that will be ! Gayle , thank you for writing this poem and capturing this precious time...I will cherish it forever !



My Daddy's Hands

Psalm 90:17 says, by God's mercy we can have value and meaning in life,
Our hands can produce work for God or bring forth worry and strife
Our hands, as it says in scripture, can raise to the heavens in adoration and praise
Or can take the life of another and condemn you for the rest of days
Our right hand can be a symbol of strength, of power and also one of a friend
Together they can clap with joy and hold a loved one in the end...

My Daddy's hands were used of God to work, praise, to sustain,
These same hands could defend us and protect us from the rain
His hands could build and clean a chimney and even play a game
These hands are now forever stilled and life will never be the same.

His hands were strong and helped us when we fell or needed a lift
His hands taught us of life and love of the Father..Oh.. what a wonderful gift !
Our Lord and Savior , Jesus Christ called Dad to preach and teach
To be an example of who Christ is ,in his action, life and speech...

Dad's hands could play the guitar and lead the church in praise
Music would be a part of his life every single day
Dad loved to praise his Father and lift his hands on high
I saw how music could give him joy as well as make him cry...

When Dad was young he used his hands to fight as a Golden Glove,
And yet could hold my Mother and show her of his love
When Dad grew older and matured in what he knew to be right
He used his hands to show more love and never again used them to fight

Dad preached in jail, and on the streets and used his hand to show
How much it meant to follow Christ, to know His word and grow
Dads hands would grip his Bible as he read of love and pain
That Jesus bore upon the cross so we could one day gain
And entrance to the Fathers house to praise his name and sing
Of God's grace throughout the ages and of peace only Christ can bring..

Dads hands held close his Grandchildren and played 'round, round" countless times
He would sing them silly songs and tell them silly rhymes
Though those were special to the kids, they were special as well to him
And forever the kids will remember thier times with PaPa Jm

Those strong and sure hands would baptize his children and lead them as they wed
And these were the hands I held as I crawled into his bed
To tell him, Thank you , Dad ,for all you've done, to hug and kiss his head
My Daddy's hands held my Mother's face as she wept at his feet
The time was so very hard but more than that...so very sweet !

My Daddy's hands lay very still as my brother held on tight
My sister and brother and I watched as Daddy died that night
Were so thankful to the Lord for a Dad who loved us so !
And a Dad who loved our Mother, more than we'll ever know ...

My Daddy's hands did many things from discipline to showing love
But most of all his hands were used to serve his Lord above
I'm thankful to the Lord for this Daddy HE gave to me
That he's with the Lord right now and from pain he's finally free
Now that he's in heaven, I miss that hand to hold
But I know someday I'll hold his hand and walk on streets of gold !

By Gayle Lang

James William Lawless, Jr
November 13, 1928 to May 13, 2003

Minister of the Gospel of Christ Jesus

Saturday, May 09, 2009

False Teachers is God's Judgement - Paul Washer

False teachers are God's judgment on people who don't want God but in the name of religion plan on getting everything their carnal hearts desire.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Greek New Testament Rebound

My New Testament professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary began each class with a reading from his Greek New Testament. Listening to him interpret as he read from the Greek was an awesome experience. Two things resulted from that. One was the love of the koine Greek language the other was a desire to own a Greek text that was bound in leather like his. Like so many others mine had a red plastic cover. My search for a Greek text bound in leather began 25 years ago without success. A couple of years ago the idea came to me that I could have my red plastic text rebound in calfskin leather which is exactly what I did. My search began and ended with finding a bindery in Shawnee, Oklahoma named McSpadden Book Bindery. A short phone call and order was placed. The results are the in the following picture.
The following year I decided to have my New Testament with Psalms rebound. This was my jail bible I used in my jail ministry in Port Arthur, Texas.. I called McSpadden again, gave them the condition and they felt they could do the work. I sent them the bible and the result is below.

I seldom use the New Testament any more but the Greek New Testament is one I still use. Every time I pick it up I admire the handy work and take a whiff of the premium leather calfskin. It’s a wonderful piece of work.

If you have an interest in taking on a project like this I would recommend that you visit Mark Bertrand’s blog Bible Design and Binding. There is a lot you can learn from this site

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Interview with Pastor Morris Brooks

Welcome to Impact Midland. Today's interview with Pastor Morris Brooks is away from the studio at the food court at The Midland Mall. In this interview we get caught up with what has been going on with Grace Covenant Church, The Midland Men's Bible Study and Pastor Morris. Enjoy the program.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ten Reasons To Not Ask Jesus Into Your Heart - Todd Friel

1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts. Some use Rev. 3:20. To tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong.
The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church.Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.
The Bible does not instruct us to ask Jesus into our heart. This alone should resolve the issue, nevertheless, here are nine more reasons.

2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean? While I am certain that most adults cannot articulate its meaning, I am certain that no child can explain it. Pastor Dennis Rokser remindsus that little children think literally and can easily be confused (or frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their heart.

3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.

4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.

5. The person who wrongly believes they are saved will have a false sense of security. Millions of people who sincerely, but wrongly, asked Jesus into their hearts think they are saved but struggle to feel secure. They live in doubt and fear because they do not have the Holy Spirit giving them assurance of salvation.

6. The person who asks Jesus into his heart will likely end up inoculated, bitter and backslidden. Because he did not get saved by reciting a formulaic prayer, he will grow disillusioned with Jesus, the Bible, church and fellow believers. His latter end will be worse than the first.

7. It presents God as a beggar just hoping you will let Him into your busy life. This presentation of God robs Him of His sovereignty.

8. The cause of Christ is ridiculed. Visit an atheist web-site and read the pagans who scoff, “How dare those Christians tell us how to live when they get divorced more than we do? Who are they to say homosexuals shouldn’t adopt kids when tens of thousands of orphans don’t get adopted by Christians?” Born again believers adopt kids and don’t get divorced.
People who ask Jesus into their hearts do. Jesus gets mocked when false converts give Him a bad name.

9. The cause of evangelism is hindered. While it is certainly easier to get church members by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts, try pleading with someone to make today the day of their salvation. Get ready for a painful response. “Why should I become a Christian when I have seen so called Christians act worse than a pagan?” People who ask Jesus into their hearts give pagans an excuse for not repenting.

10. Here is the scary one. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"One Year Ago Today" by Kristi McKnight my Daughter



One year ago today.....

One year ago today I was sitting in the MISD administration building staring at the clock. Time seemed as though it could go no slower! While Irene was in the front talking about how to teach other kids, all I could keep my mind on was wanting another kid of my own. At the time Chloe, our precious firstborn, was 3. We yearned for another sweet baby. Chloe is such an outgoing and happy child and we couldn’t imagine her ever being our only child.


For many months my dear husband held me and wiped my tears as I was crying because i was not pregnant. The pain was so hard to bear. It was such an empty feeling. My husband would feel the same pain I did; he just handled it better than me.


We decide after a year and a half that maybe there was something wrong. We met with the doctor and after a few months, the problem was diagnosed. We pursued treatment.


Several months went by with no baby news. Our doctor suggested we have an IUI (intrauterine insemination). This was a difficult decision for the both of us. We would ask, “is this playing God, is this His will?” After praying about it, we decided to follow through with the procedure.
We had our first IUI in January. It was unsuccessful. It was heartbreaking. The next two months brought us implications that would not allow us to have an IUI again. We decided that we would try again in April.


This brings me back to the MISD administration building. I sat in the meeting until 10:30, knowing that this could be the day I get pregnant! I promptly got up and excused myself from the meeting and drove to the doctor’s office. There were so many thoughts of hope running through my mind. As I walk into the office, my prince charming was sitting there waiting on me! We were excited and nervous.


The nurse calls us back. As we walk in the room with her she says “okay guys, we aren’t having an IUI today.” Out of confusion, we both questioned why. She let us know that the procedure would be pointless and that it was time to start looking at alternative ways to expanding our family. My fingers go numb as I type this. We leave the office and walk silently to our cars.
I felt as though i could not drive. I sat in my suburban and wept. My husband got in his truck. After a few minutes of sitting in our cars in complete shock, we drove to my parent’s home.
We sat in the living room and cried. We wondered what was wrong, was Curt okay, was I okay, what is next. We were in shock and scared. I will never forget the words i turned and said to my husband: “God is still good, God is still good, I love him and He loves me.” My husband agreed.

After a few days of getting used to this new reality, we started to discuss adoption. We discussed with family that adoption is biblical. We are adopted by God. I know that adoption is a good thing. I would feel proud to adopt a baby.

Several weeks went by. Life was feeling normal again. Life was different. On the morning of April 17th I realized that my period was late. I took a pregnancy test. THERE WERE TWO LINES. I took the test to my mom that morning and asked her to count the lines, I had my three year old count the lines, Curt counted the lines, and co-workers counted the lines. My husband and I would not let ourselves believe this. We were afraid to let our hearts hope again. I went in for a blood test that afternoon at 3:30.

We were headed out of town that night. We got in the car and my dad instantly knew that something was on my mind. Mom made me tell him. I explained that I had a positive pregnancy test and was afraid that it was wrong and afraid to get my hopes up. The trip seemed so long. I kept staring at my phone waiting for it to ring. Finally, at 6:30 my phone rang. It was them. My heart skipped a beat. My dad pulled over.

I remembered the conversation vividly:
“Hi Kristi, did you think I wasn’t going to call you?”...I replied that I wasn’t sure. “Sorry, the lab was closed and I called the owner. He went up to the lab and ran your test. We just got the results”...at this point, my heart is racing. “It was positive Kristi...you will have a very merry Christmas”...I was speechless. I thanked her, got off the phone, and began to cry. I was going to have another baby! God has given me a miracle...me!

I never lost sight in God. Even in the lowest of times, April 3rd, 2008, I still did not lose faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God can do all. God is miraculous.

On December 10, 2008 we welcomed Trinity Grace McKnight into the world. She was a 7 pound 6 ounce gift from God. We named her Trinity Grace because it was by God’s grace that she is here. God’s grace alone.

I will never forget April 3, 2008. A day that the devil tried to claim. A day that I did not lose sight in God. God prevails.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Against Compromise - John Macarthur

It was Martin Luther who said:

"The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

"Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God's will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

"The Scriptures give us this rule: 'We must obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29)."

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Martin Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not be divisive.

When he nailed his 95 Theses to the door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. Especially in times like Luther's--and like ours--when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. Second Corinthians 6:14-17 isn't speaking only of marriage when it says,

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

O Great God - Sovereign Grace Praise

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

MP3 here
Guitar Tab/Chords here

Off the Valley of Vision CD
You can purchase here

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

For me He died, For me He lives

I am unable to go to the Shepherd's Conference this year but have been able to listen a bit via the internet. The thing I miss the most is singing as loud as I can with 3000 other men doing the same. The Conference opened with the old classic hymn below. This hymn is the gospel put to music.

My hope is in the Lord Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives
.…..
No merit of my own His anger to suppress.

My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives
.…..
And now for me He stands Before the Father’s throne.

He shows His wounded hands and names me as His own.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives
.…..
His grace has planned it all, ‘Tis mine but to believe,

And recognize His work of love and Christ receive.
For me He died, For me He lives,

And everlasting life and light He freely gives.

Hymn by Norman Clayton (1945)

You can listen in to the conference via a live stream here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I have a Shelter - Soveriegn Grace Ministries

I have a shelter in the storm
When troubles pour upon me
Though fears are rising like a flood
My soul can rest securely
O Jesus, I will hide in You
My place of peace and solace
No trial is deeper than Your love
That comforts all my sorrows

I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation

I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven

Words and Music: Steve and Vickki Cook and Bob Kauflin
You can download it free at Sovereign Grace Ministries here.
Guitar Tab/Chords here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brandon - A Story From a Teacher Who Loves Her Job and Her Kids

Four years ago, February 17th became a sad day for me. It has become a day that I will always step back and remind myself that teaching is not just teaching, it is so much more than just that. It is about loving the kids that sit in our classrooms, respecting them, smiling with them, making them feel special, and most importantly, realizing that they are not annoyances or a test score…they are people. People that will leave our classrooms and become someone…mothers, fathers, friends, and professionals. At least that is what we hope for them.

Four years ago, I taught at Murray Fly Elementary school in Odessa. That is where I met Brandon. Brandon did not get to leave my classroom to go on to be a father, or even a high school graduate. Brandon passed away.

He was hit by a car while riding a motor bike on February 9th. I found out the morning of the 10th. The kids were running to me and telling me that Brandon was hit by a car and had to be picked up by a helicopter. At first I didn’t know how much to believe so I waited for more information. My principal found me a few minutes later, telling me that he was air lifted to Lubbock from the middle of the street. I was scared.

Brandon was a tall, skinny cutie pie with glasses. He did not come from a wholesome family. He did not come from money. He was proud of everything he owned. In fact, the day he was hit by the car, he was showing off his shoes to me and refused to get them dirty. I will never forget that conversation as long as I live. I even remember that his mom bought them for him outside of Lowe’s grocery store. Brandon was a second year fifth grader. He did not pass his TAKS tests the year before. The day I got my class list that year, I remember a teacher coming to me saying “oh, you got Brandon…well, good luck with that”. I try to ignore those comments. Brandon did great that year. I loved having him in my room. I once told my team-teacher, “You know, I love that kid”. I really did love him.

On February 11th, I decided that I needed to go to Lubbock. I asked my mom to go with me because I knew that with her support, I could do anything. She drove me there. I walked in to the hospital that night, with absolutely no clue of what I was about to see. When I turned the corner of the room in children’s ICU, my jaw dropped. There lied Brandon, lifeless Brandon. He was attached to every machine you could imagine. There were tubes everywhere. The worst part…his glasses were gone. I walked up to him and was proud to announce the 87 that he got on his benchmark his last day of school. His parents beamed. I just wish Brandon could have known. He would have been so proud of himself and walked a little taller that day! Oh, and he would have told every teacher in that building about his 87! He had two nieces that he walked to class every morning. He spoke to every teacher along the way.

While I was there, the doctor walked in. I introduced myself as Brandon’s favorite teacher! The doctor got a surprised look on his face. He asked me if I would join him for a few minutes. I obliged. He begins to explain to me that Brandon’s parents did not understand the seriousness of the situation. He showed me the x-rays and explained that the left half of Brandon’s brain was dead. He explained that it was not coming back. Then, he asked me to explain to this to the parents. What!? How was I going to do this?
My mom put her arm on my shoulders as I sat with them in Brandon’s room. I explained to them the situation and expressed how sorry I was. This was the hardest thing I had done. I kept thinking, “They didn’t prepare me for this in college”.

I drove home that night. And back the next. I would go to school, check on my students there, and then my mom would pick me up and we would head to Lubbock. This became a routine for the next few days. Our school took up collections and the kids made Valentines for me to take him. His room was full of colorful Valentine’s from his classmates…and teacher!

On February 17th, his parents decided to turn off the ventilator. He died in minutes. He died. Even as I type that, my arms go numb, it hurts so badly.

The days after were a blur. On the morning of the 18th, counselors came into my room and told the kids that Brandon had passed away. Some cried, some doodled on paper the whole time, some didn’t understand. I did not cry…I just hugged. The counselors talked with them and let them grieve.

At the visitation at the funeral home, we walked into a room with a small casket. Brandon was wearing his favorite shirt and…his glasses! A slideshow played above him and hanging on the skirt of his casket was a card that had his name in very bright colors. It was the Valentine that I had made him. His parents told me that he loved me. I loved him too.

The next day at the funeral I saw all of my students. All dressed up and holding hands with their parents. I still felt the need to be strong. So I would turn around and wink at them or reach behind me and hold their hands. It was not easy. At the graveside, a very tall boy walked up to me and gave me a big bear hug. When I got a good look at his face, it was Gabe, a student in my first class of fifth graders. I realized how grown up he was. It was so great to see him and hear of how great he was doing. I was a proud teacher.

Since that day, it hit me that these kids we teach are people. I had always known this, but it never HIT me. We only get a snapshot of their lives. We should do all we can to make a mark. They are people. They are future wives and husbands, mommies and daddies. It always makes me think of my first year of teaching. I would hear all of the teachers discuss students with words that bothered me. I would hear “oh, you will love her, she made commended performance”, or “he’s sweet, but didn’t pass that math test”. Our students are not just a score.

Brandon reminds me of that. Brandon made a good mark on my heart. He was a sweet, sweet boy. He cared. He was proud of what he had. He loved his teacher. I am glad it was me.

A few days later his parents and sister came to get his stuff out of his desk. I asked if I could keep his paper clip holder. He loved that paper clip holder. I keep it on my desk now. I also kept his lunch-punch card with his picture on it. As his family was leaving, I looked down. His sister was wearing his favorite shoes that he and I shared a conversation about the day of his accident.

I am so thankful to get to be his teacher. I am thankful for this entire experience. I, at the time, was not living as a Christian. I know that Gods Grace is what got me through this experience. It was at this time that I began to pray again, to trust in Him again. I had so many questions. Was Brandon in Heaven? I knew that he was not a Christian; he had never been witnessed to. This experience drew me closer to God. It taught me that living my life as a Christian is so important. Walking in the Christian lifestyle with Christian values is a witness to people.

My relationship to Christ is strong now. I know that this is the time that it became evident to me that I need Christ in my life. That Christ died for me. He died for me to take away the burden of my sin. He carries that sin for me. He forgives. Please don’t let your relationship to Christ surface due to a terrible situation you are in. Let this story, my experience; open your eyes to Christ. Let me be a witness to you. Let me sing of his praises and teach you of His grace. God is good. None of us are good people, we are born sinners. But, he forgives. He SAVES.

God is sovereign. God created everything. He has plans for us. All happens for a reason, His reason. Sometimes we may never understand why things happen. I don’t know the reason for Brandon’s death. I do believe that it was supposed to happen. God’s timing is perfect. I trust in Him and thank Him for the opportunity he gave me four years ago. I thank him for Brandon’s smile, I thank Him for the opportunity to be Brandon’s teacher, and I thank Him for opening my eyes to what teaching really is.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Divine Support - The Valley of Vision

“Thou art the blessed God, happy in Thyself,
source of happiness in Thy creatures,
my maker, benefactor, proprietor,
upholder.
Thou hast produced and sustained me,
supported and indulged me,
saved and kept me;
Thou art in every situation able to meet
my needs and miseries.
“May I live by Thee,
live for Thee,
never be satisfied with my Christian progress
but as I resemble Christ;
and may conformity to His principles, temper,
and conduct grow hourly in my life.
Let Thy unexampled love constrain me into
holy obedience,
and render my duty my delight.
If others deem my faith folly,
my meekness infirmity,
my zeal madness,
my hope delusion,
my actions hypocrisy,
may I rejoice to suffer for Thy name.
“Keep me walking steadfastly towards the country
of everlasting delights,
that paradise-land which is my true inheritance.
Support me by the strength of heaven
that I may never turn back,
or desire false pleasures
that will disappear into nothing.
As I pursue my heavenly journey by Thy grace
let me be known as a man with no aim
but that of a burning desire for Thee,
and the good and salvation
of my fellow men.”

Divine Support page 212 The Valley of Vision

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 - He will yet deliver us!

God is sovereign over these things, he foresees them all, he causes or permits them all, and when he causes or permits something, he does so with purpose and design. This is not the first time to post these verses. These verses mean so much my family right now. They express our hope, our trust in God, and the promise that He will deliver.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
7and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caring Love - The Valley of Vision

All-sufficient King,

When I come into thy presence I see
the glory of thy perfections,
the throne of eternal and universal empire
the ten thousand times ten thousand
who minister to thee.
Impress my mind with the consciousness
of thy greatness,
not to drive me from thee
but to inspire me to approach thee;
not to diminish my confidence in thee,
but to lead me to admire thy great
condescension.
Thou hast been mindful of me and visited me,
taken charge of me from birth,
cared in all conditions for me,
fed me at thy table,
drawn the curtains of love around me,
given me new mercies every morning.
Suffer me not to forget that I look for yet
greater blessings -
a hope beyond the grave,
the earnest and foretastes of immortality,
holiness, wisdom, strength, peace, joy;
all these thou hast provided for me in Christ.
I grieve to think how insensible I have been
of the claims of thy authority,
and the endearments of thy love;
how little I have credited thy truth,
trusted thy promises,
feared thy threats,
obeyed thy commands,
improved my advantages,
welcomed thy warnings,
responded to thy grace;
but notwithstanding my desert I yet live.
May thy goodness always lead me to repentance,
and thy longsuffering prove my salvation.

From the Valley of Vision page 210

Monday, February 02, 2009

God of All Comfort - 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 ESV

God of All Comfort

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Father,

Our trust is in You and not ourselves. Our trust is in the One and only God who raises the dead. Cause us to understand these trials and please do not allow us to waste them. Through this difficult time I pray that we will honor you and that others will see Christ through us. Father, glorify Christ through us. Amen

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Repose - The Valley of Vision

Heavenly Father,
My faith is in thee,
My expectation is from thee,
My love goes out toward thee,
I believe thee,
accept thy Word,
acquiesce in thy will,
rely on thy promises,
trust thy providence.
I bless thee that the court of conscience
proves me to be thine.
I do not need signs and wonders to believe,
for thy Word is sure truth.
I have cast my anchor in the port of peace,
knowing that present and future
are in nail-pierced hands.
Thou art so good, wise, just holy,
that no mistake is possible to thee.
Thou art fountain and source of all law;
what thou commandest is mine to obey.
I yield to thy sovereignty all that I am and have;
do thou with me as thou wilt.
Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.
Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
my willings from becoming fault-finding
with thy providences,
and have mercy on me.
If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart.
Page 296 The Valley of Vision

Where are God's men in this day of God's power

"Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap, and be faithful even unto death, who will lose their lives for Christ's, flinging them away for love of Him? Where are those who will live dangerously, and be reckless in this service? Where are the men of prayer? Where are the men who count God's Word of more importance to them than their daily food? Where are the men, who, like Moses of old, commune with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend? Where are God's men in this day of God's power?"

Saturday, January 31, 2009

For Rita - Sleep - The Valley of Vision

Blessed Creator,

Thou has promised thy beloved sleep;
Give me restoring rest needful for tomorrow’s toil.
If dreams be mine,
let them not be tinged with evil.
Let thy Spirit make my time of repose
a blessed temple of his holy presence.
May my frequent lying down make me familiar with death,
the bed I approach remind my of the grave,
the eyes I now close picture to me their final closing.
Keep me always ready, waiting for admittance
to they presence.
Weaken my attachment to earthly things.
May I hold life loosely in my hand,
knowing that I receive it on condition of its surrender.
As pain and suffering betoken transitory health,
may I not shrink from a death that introduces me
to the freshness of eternal youth.
I retire this night in full assurance of one day
awakening with thee.
All glory for this blessed hope,
for the gospel of grace,
for thine unspeakable gift of Jesus,
for the fellowship of the Trinity.
Withhold not thy mercies in the night season;
thy hand never wearies,
thy power needs no repose,
thine eye never sleeps.

Help me when I helpless lie,
when my conscience accuses me of sin,
when my mind is harassed by foreboding thoughts,
when my eyes are held awake by personal anxieties.

Show thyself to me as the God of all grace, love and power;
thou hast a balm for every wound,
a solace for all anguish,
a remedy for every pain,
a peace for all disquietude.
Permit me to commit myself to thee
awake or sleep.

Amen.

Page 298 The Valley of Vision