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A selection of worship music, including Give Us Clean Hands, Unashamed Love, God of Wonders and Agnus Dei, A New Hallelujah, and He Reigns.

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In Think: The Life of Mind and the Love of God, bestselling author and pastor John Piper aims to encourage and help Christians to think. He argues that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God” and uses scripture to debunk and bring to light the dangers of the anti-intellectualism movement in the church. At the same time, he makes it clear that using human intellect alone is also not scriptural. He also addresses relativism, showing the dangers of this line of thinking and how to safeguard against it.

I found this book insightful. Like all of Piper’s works, it is incredibly deep and will, at least for me, require repeated listening before I will glean all of its insight. Piper’s approach is fresh and full of scriptural basis and he is careful to explain that either extreme in this debate is dangerous.

I listened to the audiobook edition from christianaudio and found the recording quality excellent. Wayne Shepherd read the book clearly and used proper inflection, keeping the reading interesting.

I urge you to read or listen to this book if you want to learn how to grow closer to God.

Your Whole Self

By Nate LaClaire —  October 27, 2009 — 4 Comments

Several years ago, Christian singer Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay) challenged readers of Relevant Magazine to bring our whole selves into our relationships. I must admit that when I first read his article, entitled Your Whole Self, certain aspects turned me off. However, on closer inspection the truths found within overpowered the negatives.

There is a weight to the Gospel. There is a mass connected to the story of redemption. It is in the dark places – the addictions to pornography, alcohol, drugs, power and control. It is in our propensity to blame and abuse each other, our greed and our depravity. It is the substance of these things that gives us a place to speak about the slow road to recovery… In our church culture, there are behavioral codes set in place to give the appearance of victory. There are things that church people cannot talk about. There are activities that church people do not engage in…. There is not a darkness or a shadow to speak of… Because we have chosen to speak only about the victory from these things, we are left to promote a gospel that is feeble and moveable at best… Our Gospel is unbelievable because it is only half a Gospel. It is the resurrection without any signs of the crucifixion. I believe there are profound reasons why Jesus still carried the scars from the nails on His hands when He appeared to His friends. He was bringing the entire Gospel to His disciples…

The full article is available here.

Last winter, a series of events reminded me of his article. I was reminded of the importance of being authentic. It is only in our total authenticity that we are able to testify to what the Lord has done for us. Too often we Christians give an air of perfection. Several years ago, I heard a testimony that the giver was saved from a life of “terrible sin” at the age of five and had lived for Christ ever since. Twenty years of the person’s life was missing. Twenty years of struggle, twenty years of growth. As someone who was at that point very much teetering on the edge, suffering from addictive behaviors and very nearly ready to give in at any moment, the testimony left me with a sour taste in my mouth. “Terrible sin at the age of five,” I thought, “you don’t know terrible sin – I’ll show you terrible sin!” At the same time, I knew better than to believe that someone so close to my own age hadn’t struggled over the previous 10-15 years with certain sins that were very much a reality to me. It seemed insincere. And yet, that testimony reflects the norm for our sterilized church culture. In fact, if you had asked me yesterday you probably would have heard a similar response: saved somewhere around the age of five, forgiven for my sins, now I’m a new man and look forward to eternal communion with my Savior. Is it untrue? No, not at all. I believe that I was forgiven for my sins once and forever when I accepted Christ at around the age of five, but there is so much more to my story. The fact that I don’t have much of a pre-conversion story (due to my young age at the time) doesn’t mean that God hasn’t been working in my life.

Funny thing about sterility: it tremendously inhibits the ability to reproduce/multiply/spread the Word. Seeds that aren’t planted will never grow, stories that aren’t told will never inspire, and pain that is never shared will never give hope to another hurting soul.

So, what now? I’m going to work harder to bring my whole self into my relationships. It might hurt – probably will – but anything else is a lie and will inhibit my ability to serve Christ.

PS Despite my initial reaction, I don’t question for a moment that a five-year-old can be saved from a life of “terrible sin.” All sin is terrible. Life in sin is terrible. I am confident that the person giving that testimony was referring to this fact. I don’t mean to suggest that my own sins have been worse than anyone else’s, but rather that our struggles as redeemed children of God are very much realities that we should embrace in the name of authenticity. Failing to do so shortchanges those around us and fails to give God the glory for the progress He has made in our lives.

Maybe, next time, Timothy Geithner should pay an accountant. Or take a simple computer course.

via Geithner Links Woes to Tax Software Used by 18 Million Americans.

You gotta love this report from Fox News. This guy can’t figure out how to use TurboTax and President Obama wants him in charge of the Treasury? How is that logical?

Proverbs 3:1-6

By Nate LaClaire —  July 27, 2008 — 1 Comment

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

Wisdom from an old man

By Nate LaClaire —  October 3, 2007 — Leave a comment

One of my favorite lines from the movie Secondhand Lions is spoken by Hub, the character played by Robert Duvall:

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most[...] that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

I just love that quote.

Portland’s "Holiday Tree"

By Nate LaClaire —  December 15, 2006

Officials in Maine’s largest city have decided to call the traditional Christmas tree at Monument Square a “holiday tree,” citing a desire to be sensitive to other people and religions as the reason for their decision to avoid directly referencing the Christian holiday. But Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine (CCLM), notes that the Portland officials apparently have no problem with insulting 850,000 Christians who live in Maine.

On this issue, I have to respectfully disagree with Mike Heath. The city’s political correctness is ridiculous, for the reason Kiera McCaffrey mentions (below), but why does it really matter what they call the silly tree? We Christians focus all of our energy on whining and complaining about every little thing that secular culture does and we miss the important part. The Christmas tree was originally based on a pagan ritual. Even the date of Christmas was taken from pagan culture. I love many of our secular Christmas practices and symbols – including the Christmas tree – but we need to get real: they are a part of secular culture. Jesus never said that we must celebrate His birth on December 25. He never said we should erect evergreens in our living rooms for the month of December. He never suggested hanging mistletoe above our doorways. And for all we know, he was born in July.

Like I said, Portland’s move is a stupid one:

But Kiera McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights — a group that has been tracking the issue for some 12 years — says Portland’s renaming decision will not fool anyone. In talking with the Herald, McCaffrey asked what other religions take evergreen trees indoors and decorate them. “They are Christmas trees,” she said. “Everybody knows that.”

However, they don’t know any better. They are blinded by their hatred. What’s our excuse?

Source: Bows of Folly: Portland Blasted for PC Pandering With ‘Holiday Tree’

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

I just love that quote. What an awesome reminder that God is in control! Even in our darkest moments, we can have faith that He has put us there. We need not worry over our circumstances but must focus on seizing the day. And that is an encouraging thought.

An interesting view of Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to give state police the task of arresting illegal immigrants from Thomas Keown, the director of media relations for the Irish Immigration Center in Boston:

…beyond immigration it is the purely law enforcement angle that shows most clearly the danger of state police enforcing immigration law. Effective community policing depends on effective partnerships. Police departments have worked hard to build trust between them and the communities they protect. This new duty would shatter the relationships so painstakingly pieced together by making immigrants – legal and undocumented – fearful of a force that benefits from their backing.

News will sweep through the immigrant community that any contact with police carries the risk of deportation. Immigrants will be deterred from reporting crimes they have been victims of, been a witness to or even just from flagging suspicious behavior. Safety in your neighborhood depends on police being able to do their job, and we should be encouraging, not discouraging, your neighbors to co-operate with them.

Source: BostonHerald.com – Opinion & Editorial: Immigration enforcement is for feds

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them – just post a comment. Thanks!

A few months back my Dad and I discussed the fact that Pat Robertson seems to be shooting himself in the foot quite often lately. Well, apparently we are not the only ones who feel that way. Tom Ponchak has started a petition entitled Christians Against Pat Speaking (CAPS). I have great respect for Pat Robertson and consider myself honored to have walked within 6 feet of him as I left a restaurant after a wonderful lunch last April, but his recent inflamatory comments are not progressing the cause of Christ. As Christians, it is our duty to love others (remember the “greatest commandment”?), but Rev. Robertson’s recent behavior demonstrates everything but love.