Love Came Down at Christmas

Here’s the link to this year’s Christmas Eve message, Love Came Down, a very simple message taken from 1 John 4:7-10. Here is a brief outline of the message:

I. Love comes from God (verses 7-8)

II. Love came down to earth (verse 9)

III. Love came down to the cross (verse 10)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

And here is a great Christina Rossetti poem by the same name:

“Love Came Down at Christmas” – Christina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Come and Stand Amazed, You People!

I discovered a new (old) Christmas carol this year! This is a medieval Dutch carol, based on a translation by Klaas Hart (1906-1973). The words dig deep into the mystery and miracle of Christmas. Merry Christmas, and enjoy!

Come and Stand Amazed, You People

Come and stand amazed, you people,
See how God is reconciled!
See his plans of love accomplished,
See his gift, this newborn child.
See the Mighty, weak and tender,
See the Word who now is mute.
See the Sovereign without splendor,
See the Fullness destitute;
The Beloved whom, we covet,
In a state of low repute.

See how humankind received him;
See him wrapped in swaddling bands,
Who as Lord of all creation
Rules the wind by his commands.
See him lying in a manger
Without sign of reasoning;
Word of God to flesh surrendered,
He is wisdom’s crown, our King.
See how tender our Defender
At whose birth the angels sing.

O Lord Jesus, God incarnate,
Who assumed this humble form,
Counsel me and let my wishes
To your perfect will conform.
Light of life, dispel my darkness,
Let your frailty strengthen me;
Let your meekness give me boldness,
Let your burden set me free;
Let your sadness give me gladness,
Let your death be life for me.

And here is a modern rendering of the carol on YouTube:

Come and Stand Amazed – Citizens (cover) (Video length:2:28)

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 12/14/2014

Sunday’s advent message was called O Worship the King!, taken from Matthew 2:1-12. Here is a brief outline of the message:

When you seek Christ, you will find him. When you find him, you will worship him. When you worship him, your life will be changed forever!

I. Seeking the King (1-2)
   A. Jesus > was born king of the Jews (Micah 5:2)
   B. Herod > the acting king of the Jews (Luke 1:5)
   C. The Magi > pagan Gentiles from the East (Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 60:3; Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7, 28:19)

II. Rejecting the King (3-8)
   A. Disturbed by Jesus instead of drawn to him (Acts 4:2)
   B. Knowledge without coming to Christ (John 5:39-40)
   C. Hypocrisy or deceit (Matthew 7:21-23)

III. Worship the King (9-12)
   A. Rejoicing in Christ (1 Peter 1:8-9)
   B. Giving your all for Christ (Matthew 13:44-46)
   C. Following Christ (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 12/7/2014

Sunday’s advent message was called Birth Announcement for the Ages, taken from Matthew 1:18-25. Here is a brief outline of the message:

The birth of Jesus Christ (the Messiah):

I. Joseph’s dilemma (18-19)
   A. Mary pledged to be married to Joseph
   B. Mary found with child through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
   C. Joseph had in mind to divorce her quietly (Deut 22:23-24)

II. Joseph’s dream (20-23)
   A. Conceived by the Holy Spirit
   B. A son named Jesus who will save from sin (Psalm 130:8)
   C. Immanuel – “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; John 1:1,14)

III. Joseph’s decision (24-25)
   A. Took Mary home as his wife
   B. Had no union with her until she gave birth (Matt 13:55-56)
   C. Gave him the name Jesus

“Immanuel” – God is with us through Jesus born at Christmas!

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

A Happy Star Trek Christmas!

I love Star Trek, and I love Christmas, so this one is a no-brainer for me!

Picard – Make it So – Let It Snow (Video length: 2:29)

Related post: Darth Vader Plays a Mean Harmonica

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 11/30/2014

Sunday’s advent message was called Everyone Has a Past, taken from Matthew 1:1-17. Here is a brief outline of the message:

I. Jesus’ birth is rooted in history
   A. The importance of genealogies (1 Chronicles 1-9)
   B. Establishes Jesus’ true humanity (Matt 1:1-16)

II. Jesus’ birth is rooted in God’s sovereignty
   A. The use of selective genealogies (cf. Genesis 5 & 11; Matthew 1:1,8,11)
   B. Three groups of fourteen generations (Matthew 1:17)

III. Jesus’ birth is rooted in God’s promises
   A. God’s promise to Abraham:
      – all nations will be blessed (Genesis 22:18; Gal 3:16)
   B. God’s promise to David:
      – a king will rule forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16)
   C. God’s promise to the exiles:
      – a child will be born (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-9)

IV. Jesus’ birth is rooted in God’s grace
   A. Tamar: incest (Genesis 38:1-30)
   B. Rahab: prostitution (Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25)
   C. Ruth: from Moab (Deuteronomy 23:3-6; Ruth 1:1-7)
   D. Bathsheba: adultery and murder (1 Samuel 11:1-27)

Application: Everyone has a past. Your life is also rooted:
   – in history (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12)
   – in God’s sovereignty (Psalm 139:16; Acts 17:26)
   – in God’s promises (John 6:37; Acts 2:38-39)
   – in God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 10/5/2014

I haven’t done Sunday Morning SoundBytes in a while, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up. We started a new message series in September called, “Lord, I Have a Problem,” where we are looking at how God helps us with our various problems through our new life in Jesus Christ. So far we have looked at dealing with the problems of anger, envy and worry. You can access all of the messages in the series at this link here: “Lord, I Have a Problem.”

Here is an outline of yesterday’s message on “Dealing with Worry.”

I. The problem of worry (Psalm 139:23-24; Ecclesiastes 11:10)
   A. Robs us of our joy (Romans 15:13)
   B. Makes us unfruitful (Matthew 13:22; Luke 21:34)
   C. Doesn’t accomplish anything (Psalm 127:2; Matthew 6:27)
   D. Shows a lack of trust in God (Isaiah 26:3-4; Romans 14:23)

II. Understanding worry
   A. Worry vs. godly concern (1 Cor. 7:32-34, 12:25; 2 Cor. 11:28; Philippians 2:20)
   B. What do we worry about? (Matthew 6:25-34)
      – relationships, work, finances, health (physical needs)
   C. Why do we worry?
      1) We don’t know the future
      2) We can’t solve all our problems
      3) We can’t be everywhere at once
Note: Remember God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present

III. Dealing with worry
   1) Know that you have a heavenly Father (Matthew 6:26)
   2) Trust in God (Psalm 139:16; John 14:1,27; 1 Peter 5:7)
   3) Learn to live in the present (Matthew 6:33-34)
   4) Pray about it (Philippians 4:6-7)
   5) Fill your mind with good thoughts (Philippians 4:8)
   6) Grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
      – especially joy and peace (Psalm 94:19; Proverbs 17:22)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

Time Lapse of the Earth at Night

Here is some beautiful time-lapse footage of the earth at night as seen from the ISS (International Space Station). There are some especially beautiful sequences of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) as seen from space.

All Alone in the Night (Video length: 2:29)

Related post: The Size of the Earth Compared to Other Objects in Space
Click here for more Space related posts.

Book Review – Idol Lies, by Dee Brestin

This is a guest post by my wife, Rosi Fowler!
Click here to visit Rosi’s blog.

Idol Lies, by Dee Brestin

“My name is Dee and I am an idolater.” That’s how the author begins this eye-opening book. Quite a confession, and that is exactly what I found myself confessing too before getting to the end of the book.

Once I began reading this book, it was hard to stop. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter. There were so many moving testimonies of women who eventually came to the realization that they too were idolaters. Idol Lies helps us to see our idols for what they really are: lies. And those lies feed right into our souls taking up residence in our hearts. These “soul idols” are invisible; they hide well giving us false hope. But Dee Brestin helps us to recognize that these inward idols carry red flags if we know how to look for them.

The author is very personable and likeable. She has a passion for helping women live free of idols. She is a woman who experienced deep sorrow with the loss of her husband to cancer. She has struggled with her own “soul idol” and shares how we too can experience release. Dee really hits a nerve in Idol Lies.

This is a book study too. The study questions and leader’s guide are at the end of the book. She helps you dig deep into the Scriptures and includes heart probing and challenging questions. She also provides web links for free videos before each lesson.

So, if you have a deep desire to have an intimate walk with the Lord and it is just not happening, at least not lately, I recommend reading Idol Lies. You want to make sure your heart is free of idols, because they can take up residence even in mature believers.

Law Before and After Gospel

Here is a good quote from Ursinus on the role of the law both before and after the preaching of the gospel:

The preaching of the law goes before, preparing and leading us to a knowledge of the gospel: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20) Hence, there can be no sorrow for sin without the law. After the sinner has once been led to a knowledge of sin, then the preaching of the gospel follows, encouraging contrite hearts by the assurance of the mercy of God through Christ. Without the preaching there is no faith, and without faith there is no love to God, and hence no conversion to him. After the preaching of the gospel, the preaching of the law again follows, that it may be the rule of our thankfulness and of our life.

The law, therefore, precedes, and follows conversion. It precedes that it may lead to a knowledge and sorrow for sin: it follows that it may serve as a rule of life to the converted. It is for this reason that the prophets first charge sin upon the ungodly, threaten punishment, and exhort to repentance; then comfort and promise pardon and forgiveness; and lastly, again exhort and prescribe the duties of piety and godliness (Ursinus, Commentary, 472).   HT: Ref21

Related post: Past, Present and Future Grace

Goalie Tim Howard Talks about His Christian Faith

Yes, there is another Christian football player named Tim. Tim Howard, goalie for the U.S. National Team at the 2010 & 2014 World Cup, talks about his Christian faith.

Tim Howard

Tim’s years of American soccer helped prepare him for England, professionally and spiritually. “I came to a crossroads,” says the 27-year-old. As he tasted success on the field, he realized he had two choices: strive to be a sports idol, or give God the glory. Tim vowed to give credit to the Creator.

“The most important thing in my life is Christ. He’s more important to me than winning or losing or whether I’m playing or not. Everything else is just a bonus.” – Goalie Tim Howard

You can read more about Tim in this 2006 article from Athletes in Action:
Tim Howard: The Goal Keeper

Ebook – The Psalms of David in Metre (John Brown)

I am excited to announce the ebook release of The Psalms of David in Metre: with Notes by John Brown of Haddington This is a project my son has been working on for over a year now. He loves the Psalms, and this is clearly the new definitive ebook edition of this important work. The ebook is easy to navigate with extensive links and notes and is perfect for singing, study, devotion and worship.

This ebook edition includes:

  • Brief Historical Background for the Psalms of David in Metre
  • Explanation of Metrical Psalms and Tips for Singing Them
  • Textual and other Notes on this Work and its ebook Format
  • John Brown’s Preface, Notes, and Common Table of Psalms
  • Links to First Lines of each Psalm
  • Tune Recommendations
  • Subject Index
  • Glossary of Unfamiliar Terms

This project has truly been a labor of love requiring hundreds of hours of work. I encourage you to purchase your copy today!

Click here for Kindle version: The Psalms of David in Metre: with Notes by John Brown of Haddington

Click here for Nook version: The Psalms of David in Metre: with Notes by John Brown of Haddington