John Owen once said that our knowledge of the Bible is useless unless it “forms Christ in the soul.” He meant that unless truth leads us to Jesus or brings him to us, it stays lifeless and unprofitable. It does us no good.
But when the truth shows us Christ — when we see him and his glory — we are changed. We are transformed into his likeness and image.
The recent Conference for Pastors was aimed at just this, focusing on the topic of union with Christ. All the media from the conference is now available for unlimited streaming and download, all free of charge.
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“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life and I willl dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
What a wonderful and very encouraging promise to be reminded of. The 23rd Psalm is a picture of God who is so immense and powerful yet so personal and caring.
The realities in this life may be cruel. It’s no wonder why many people go through bouts of depression. Even Christians are not spared by difficult circumstances. Who would be excited to hear news like “you have cancer”, or “you’re fired”? Your bills are piling up and your finances are at record low. And the list goes on and on …
Yet in all these, we have God who is our Shepherd. He is our Provider, Guide, Protector, Defender, Companion just as the Psalm tells us. The very last verse is a seal of guarantee that from today until forever, God’s goodness and mercy will pursue us. God’s love will follow us relentlessly no matter what.
The first time my friends saw this website the leaf symbol could not escape their attention. They asked me, “Are you Irish?” Obviously, I’m not. I’m Asian – Filipino to be exact. Why did we choose the three-heart-shaped shamrock leaf as our church logo? A little background first before I go to my main explanation. In our place, we have a patio between our house and the garage. I use a portion of the patio for my gardening hobby. I often see in some of the pots shamrock which invade my other plants. They have interesting heart-shape leaves. True, they are weeds but aren’t they beautiful? So one day I picked a bunch of leaves and put in my hands and did my ‘scientific observation’. They are tiny, The color was vivid green. The feel was soft and the plant could survive for days even without watering. I was really fascinated. So I thought we could use it as our church symbol.
I learned that St. Patrick used the three-heart shape of shamrock to teach the doctrine of Trinity in the 5th century. That’s why shamrock became the national symbol of Ireland. This is why people wear green when it’s St. Patrick’s Day!
Now let me go back to the question. What is the meaning of our emblem?
The green color symbolizes our life which is a gift from God. We exist because God has made us part of His eternal plan and purpose.
The threefold leaf symbolizes the Trinity – the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, who is one God in three persons. It also stands for faith, hope and love. Faith is what makes us pleasing to God, without which we cannot see Him. Through faith we are saved by grace. Hope is our guarantee of a blessed future based on the complete work of redemption by Jesus Christ and the certainty of God’s promises. God’s love, shown by His grace and mercy, saved us from sin, justified us and restored us to eternal life. Love is what God expects from us to be our motivation for obedience and service. To love God with our whole being, as well as others as we love ourselves is the essence of God’s Law.
by Rick Warren
(Originally posted at Christian Post)
London has some of the most beautiful, historic churches in the entire world. Yet they are also some of the most empty. I was struck by this recently when I was in the city to do a Bible study. Churches are dying off so fast that they’re being sold off to bars and restaurants. London churches are desperate for the blessing of God.
I don’t want to lead a dying church. I don’t believe you do either. So what does it take for a church to remain vibrant, exciting-and alive? It takes the blessing of God. Whenever God blesses a church, it grows, lives are changed and miracles happen. Churches that God blesses bless people, bless families and bless communities.
That’s what the early church had. God’s blessing was all over that church. If we want to have the blessing of God on our churches, we need to do what the early church did in Acts 1-2.
1. Pray for God’s power. (Acts 1:3-4, 14) It’s God’s power that makes the Church different from any other organization or group. We have the Holy Spirit. Microsoft, General Motors, and Apple do not have the Holy Spirit. We do. He has also given the church an enormous assignment-to get as many people into Heaven as possible. Like the early Church, we need God’s power to do this.
2. Use everyone’s language. (Acts 2:5-8) One of the great miracles of the Day of Pentecost was that, as the disciples preached, everyone heard them in their own language. It was a complete reversal of what God did at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. But we don’t need this miracle today. Today’s Church speaks every language in the world. The Church speaks more languages than the United Nations.
But I believe the people in your church speak more languages than you realize. We all speak dozens of languages. If someone in your church is involved in IT or a baseball fan or a doctor or a salesperson, they understand a language others don’t know. If you want to be a church that God blesses, you need to realize that God has placed people in your congregation for a reason. They have a language that God wants them to use to share the Good News in the community.
What is it? It is an undivided attention in God’s presence – asking, seeking and knocking on His mercy. It is letting God whisper in your ears His affirmation and allowing your wills diminished by His wise and perfect will. As you turn from yourself to God, you begin to realize that His peace and joy have drowned your fears and doubts. God is never far after all. He is with you. He honors you with His abiding love. He desires for you all the best in life. He said, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
Would you enter the listening room?