Archive for December, 2015

Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols: Thursday, 12/24 at 4 pm

You are warmly invited to join us for a Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols this Thursday, 12/24 at 4 pm. We will be meeting at our usual location (Eden Lake Elementary School 12000 Anderson Lakes Parkway, Eden Prairie, MN).
This historic service follows closely the pattern of the famous Christmas Eve celebration from King’s College Cambridge. Every year on Christmas Eve a festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is held in King’s College Chapel. The Festival was first introduced in 1919. It was later broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world every year. It is a service that engages our minds and grips our hearts as the drama of redemption is proclaimed to us from Genesis to Revelation.
We hear the Scriptures read and briefly explained from nine passages, tracing the history of salvation. It begins with the promise of a Savior to Adam and Eve, moves to the promises announced to the Patriarchs and through the Prophets, culminates with the birth of the God-­‐man in the Gospels and looks forward to his glorious return which will bring peace on earth. Between each Scripture lesson, we respond by singing sacred hymns, rich in theology, which exalt the person and work of Christ. We hope this service causes you to reflect with wonder and awe upon the great significance of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to trust in Him alone for salvation, and to look forward with hope to His second coming. Merry Christmas!

What is (one of) the greatest miracle of all?

The incarnation of the Son of God.

“We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets1 when, at the time appointed by Him,2 He sent into the world His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took the form of a servant and was born in the likeness of men (Php 2:7).  He truly assumed a real human nature with all its infirmities,3 without sin,4 for He was conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit and not by the act of a man.5  He not only assumed human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, in order that He might be a real man.  For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that He should assume both to save both.

Contrary to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of His mother, we therefore confess that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of the children (Heb 2:14).  He is a fruit of the loins of David (Acts 2:30); born of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3); a fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary (Lk 1:42); born of woman (Gal 4:4); a branch of David (Jer 33:15); a shoot from the stump of Jesse (Is 11:1); sprung from the tribe of Judah (Heb 7:14); descended from the Jews according to the flesh (Rom 9:5); of the seed of Abraham,6 since the Son was concerned with the descendants of Abraham.  Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in every respect, yet without sin (Heb 2:16-17, 4:15).

In this way He is in truth our Immanuel, that is, “God with us” (Mt 1:23).”

-Belgic Confession (1561), Article 18, The Incarnation of the Son of God

1 Gen 26:4; 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11; Lk 1:55; Acts 13:23 2 Gal 4:4 3 1 Tim 2:5, 3:16; Heb 2:14 4 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; 1 Pt 2:22 5 Mt 1:18; Lk 1:35 6 Gal 3:16 

The Most Essential Life Skill: Teachability

“There’s one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life: teachability.

Those who are teachable, and remain so, usually succeed. The unteachable usually fail. I’ve seen that in business, I’ve seen it in the ministry, I’ve seen it among students, and I’ve seen it in my children.

No matter how much talent and gifting we have, if we are, or become, unteachable, we will never reach anywhere near our full potential in our careers, our callings, or our relationships.

So what does unteachabilty look like?

  • Doesn’t take notes, read books, or learn anything unless it’s the bare minimum or what’s essential for exam purposes.
  • Doesn’t ask questions or attempt anything that might reveal ignorance or risk looking stupid.
  • Doesn’t accept responsibility for failures but blames anyone and everyone else.
  • Doesn’t seek or accept one-to-one personal guidance or mentoring from parents, teachers, pastors, elders, etc.
  • Doesn’t listen, but talks, talks, talks about self, especially when with someone you could learn a lot from.
  • Doesn’t take criticism or correction without resentment or retaliation.
  • Resists moving out of personal comfort zones in work, study, ministry, or relationships, but always looks for the easy and familiar route.
  • Doesn’t read, listen to, or learn anything that challenges existing presuppositions, practices, and prejudices.

In contrast, teachability means:

  • You’re aware of the limitations of your own knowledge and abilities.
  • You admit limitation, inability, and ignorance to others who can teach and help.
  • You regularly ask for help, instruction, guidance, and advice (before the event, not after disaster strikes).
  • You learn from anyone and everyone you can (the best educated pastor I know writes notes for his own benefit even when listening to a novice preacher).
  • You listen to others carefully and patiently with a desire to learn from everyone.
  • You’re prepared to move out of your comfort zone, try something different, make mistakes, look stupid, answer wrongly, etc.
  • You don’t give up when you fail at something, but seek help, and try again and again until you get it right.
  • You’re willing to change your views and practices when convincing evidence is presented to you, even if it means admitting you were wrong.

There’s another word for teachability.

Humility.”

-David Murray, The Christian Life.

What were you created for?

“We were created to feast on glory.  But we have sinned and fallen short of it (Romans 3:23). It has become unattainable.  No wonder, then, that those made for the eternal are by nature discontented with the temporal.  We try the broken cisterns, but their waters fail and mock us until, in God’s providence, we learn that there is “none but Christ….here is the blessed paradox: the moment you give in to Christ is the moment you begin to learn contentment.”

-Sinclair Ferguson