Sunday, March 27, 2011

My New Favorite Song

I have a new favorite song! The song is called "Only Jesus". I don't know who wrote it. I have tried to search for information about the song, but so far I have been unsuccessful. The group that I heard sing it is the Calvary Quartet. I highly recommend the Calvary Quartet, but this song in particular is amazing. I have listened to it numerous times, and I don't think I have made it through the song one time without getting tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. After listening to this song about a dozen times and having the same reaction every time, I began to analyze the song closely. I wanted to know what were the components that made this song pure gold. Here's what I came up with:

1. The words
Words, of course, are a very important part of a song, and the words in this song are about as uplifting as anything I have ever heard. The first verse lays out scenarios where a person is feeling sad, tired, disappointed, or discouraged, and points them to Jesus. The second verse speaks to those who have fainted or failed along the way and encourages them to consider Jesus, the only one who can renew their spirit. The chorus asks, "Who can wash my sin away, who can give victory every day, who is with me all the way?" Then comes the solid, unshakeable, and resounding answer - "Only Jesus"!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Word Of Praise For Japan

I really don't know what to say about the situation in Japan. It is indescribably sad, and I am praying for their country during this devastating time. I hope you will enjoy this beautiful picture from Japan instead of all of the pictures of destruction we are seeing on the news.

Today I read something nice and admirable about Japan in our local paper that I wanted to share briefly. A headline in the Cambodia Daily said, "Despite Crisis, Japan Gives $94 Million Aid to Cambodia". When I read the headline, I assumed that the aid surely was given a few weeks ago, before the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. But such was not the case. The very first sentence of the article said that yesterday (about 4 days after the earthquake and tsunami struck their country) Japan signed an agreement to give Cambodia nearly $100 million in aid for various infrastructure projects and demining efforts. Cambodia's Prime Minister said in a speech on Monday that Cambodia should be prepared for Japan to have to cut back on its foreign aid budget due to the severity of their current crisis. I do not know the amount of aid that Japan gave to Cambodia last year. They have been one of the top (if not the top) foreign country investing in Cambodia's rebuilding for many years. I can stand on our back porch and see the Japanese Friendship Bridge spanning the Tonle Sap River. Perhaps what they gave this year didn't equal what they gave last year. I don't know. But I do know that $94 million is not "pocket change". That's a huge amount of money for a country to give to help another country when they themselves are facing extensive and expensive damages in their country. It has been said that this current crisis is the greatest damage that Japan has faced since WWII. I find it to be very admirable that even in the face of this current crisis, Japan would still desire to be a help to others in need.

Being a preacher, almost every news article reminds me of a verse of Scripture, and this one was no different.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bible Memory Awards

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."     
Psalm 121:1-2

Next Sunday we will be presenting some awards for this past year's Bible memory efforts in our church. The awards include some new Bibles as well as some beautiful, framed Scripture pictures (one of them is pictured above), depending on how many verses each person said. I am always touched by how desirable these simple prizes are to our church people. Yesterday I bought two new kinds of Bibles that have just been printed, and I showed them around after last night's church service. Everybody loved them! One of the young ladies didn't say much or step forward to look at the new Bibles. When I asked her if she wanted to take a look, she sighed and said, "No, it will just make me sorry I didn't memorize more verses." I'm still waiting for the final list from my verse monitors, but when I get the final number of verses quoted, I'll include it in the next email update.  I'm looking forward to next Sunday when we will get to award these Bibles and pictures. This year's pictures turned out so nice that I wanted to share them with my blog readers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Benefiting From The Bible

If you asked the average Christian which book means the most to them out of every book they have ever read or owned, I believe most would say the Bible.  But although we talk about the Bible a lot, I wonder how many Christians are literally benefiting from it in a real and practical way on a regular basis. We don't get the benefits of God's Word by setting a Bible on the coffee table. Carrying your Bible to church every Sunday will not give you some kind of magical blessing from God. There is a process, some prerequisites if you will, which will ensure that you will receive the benefits that God wants to provide through His Word.

In Psalm 119:161-176 we see the progress of a man's relationship with the Word of God which ultimately culminated in great personal benefit. These progressive steps actually form a cycle which can keep itself going indefinitely. Some spiritual cycles in life are negative, like a rut. For example, the cycle found in the book of Judges as the Children of Israel constantly went from sin to servitude to supplication to salvation...and back to sin again. But the cycle in Psalm 119 is not a negative one. It is an extremely positive and helpful cycle which will keep the benefits of God's Holy Word flowing into a person's life.

1. Assessment

The first prerequisite to receiving benefit from the Bible is that one must have a proper assessment of it. If you do not consider the Bible to in fact be God's Word, if you do not value it highly, and stand in awe of it's truth and power, then you will never be helped by it. Notice what the Psalmist said in verses 161-162.