Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Iron Lady

A few days ago, in an extended car-ride and discussion with my good friend, David Alders, I was reminded of some of the kinds of political leaders we used to have and realized that we not only need to remember, but we also need to call attention to certain men and women who might be forgotten or never known by future generations. Political memory is as useful as personal memory.

  • Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.
  • They’ve got the usual Socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money.
  • There is much to be said for trying to improve some disadvantaged people’s lot. There is nothing to be said for trying to create heaven on earth.
  • Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.
  • Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.
  • You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
  • If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.
  • No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.
  • Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus.
  • Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.
  • Watch your thoughts, for they will become actions. Watch your actions, for they'll become... habits. Watch your habits for they will forge your character. Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.
  • The facts of life are conservative.
  • Do you think you would ever have heard of Christianity if the Apostles had gone out and said, “I believe in consensus?” 
  • I owe nothing to Women’s Lib.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Remembering the Good Ol’ Days – Reagan Quotes

  • Change starts at the dinner table.
  • Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.
  • I did turn 75 today - but remember, that's only 24 Celsius.
  • Even Albert Einstein reportedly needed help on his 1040 form.
  • I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.
  • When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.
  • One picture is worth 1,000 denials.
  • You know, it has been said that politics is the second oldest profession and I've come to realize over the last few years, it bears a great similarity to the first.
  • One way to make sure crime doesn't pay would be to let the government run it.
  • Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.
  • If you're explaining, you're losing.
  • Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
  • Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
  • It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Christin's Quote Book

  • There are countless horrible things happening all over the world and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible. ―Auberon Waugh
  • As time passes, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.—Andrew Carnegie
  • The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it. —P. J. O’Rourke
  • Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it. —Margaret Thatcher
  • Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. —Marilyn Vos Savant

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Man in the Arena

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

-- Teddy Roosevelt

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christin's Quote Book

  • They should hand out bachelor’s degrees at birth and be done with the farce. ―anonymous
  • Every fountain of government benefits is also a siphon into taxpayer wallets. —John Hayward
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. —Winston Churchill
  • Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. —Calvin Coolidge
  • I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. ―Daniel Boone

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GCPC - Podcasts

Several folks have asked about receiving Podcasts from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. Between our website host and iTunes, there are limits on the number of podcasts that we can put up [30], which means that we will need to change them out from time-to-time. We currently have posted 8 lessons on grief: “Suffering and Sorrow”; 8 lessons on sexual purity: “A Clean Heart”; 2 sermons on baptism; and the first two lessons in a new series on church membership: “Members of the Body.” We will add the new lessons for this last series as they are completed. 
For iPhones and iPads, go to your Podcast Icon and search for: “GCPC Nacogdoches.” This should pull up a complete list of our current podcasts. If you would like regular updates when new podcasts are available, then hit the SUBSCRIBE button.

For Android phones and devices, there are a handful of terrific apps out there that let you download and manage podcasts directly from your mobile device. Here are a couple of free apps Podcast Addict and Podcast Republic. Again, search for: “GCPC Nacogdoches.”

For a more complete listing of lessons and sermons, you can listen or download the Mp3s from our church website Click on the SERIES COLUMN and this will sort the list by series title. If there are specific recordings that you would like to see available for Podcast, please let us know.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christin's Quote Book

  • “We shall, as we ripen in grace, have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians. Bitter-spirited Christians may know a great deal, but they are immature. Those who are quick to censure may be very acute in judgment, but they are as yet very immature in heart. He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more; he overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.... I know we who are young beginners in grace think ourselves qualified to reform the whole Christian church. We drag her before us, and condemn her straightway; but when our virtues become more mature, I trust we shall not be more tolerant of evil, but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms.” ― Charles H. Spurgeon
  • “What is love for, if not to intensify our affections—both in life and death? But, O, do not be bitter. It is tragically self-destructive to be bitter.”  John Piper
  • “Bitterness: anger that forgot where it came from.”  Alain de Botton
  • “He searched for words to poison the shaft of his disdain.”  Margaret Landon
  • “...every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness.”   John Steinbeck

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nothing in My Hand I Bring

A good way to start the New Year is by remembering who and what we are. We’re not only NOT self-sufficient, we’re utterly needy. In fact, in and of ourselves, we’re nothing.  Isaiah captured our condition when he wrote these words of Scripture:

And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;We all fade as a leaf,And our iniquities, like the wind,Have taken us away.

When I come to God I bring nothing to the table except my filthy rags. I have no bargaining chips. Collectively the Scriptures say: “All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless” (Isa. 40:17). I’m part of that sum.  A wrong perception of myself, and my situation, will lead to my ruin. Jesus said:

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. ―Revelation 3:17-19

One of the great paradoxes of Scripture is that the way up is down. The starting place is this confession: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Rom. 7:18).  This might, at first glance, appear to be bad news. However, a second glace, through the lens of the gospel, yields a very different view.  Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).  Augustus Toplady captured this essential starting place when he penned these lines from the hymn, Rock of Ages:

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Martin Luther also said it succinctly when he wrote:

It is God's nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything, and therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise. In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched.

Throughout the Bible we have stories of how God used nothing to do something powerful: e.g., Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, the little servant girl with Naaman, Daniel, Stephen, the blind man, and a long, long list of others who were nothing apart from God. I want my name in that list of nothings.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord. ―1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Forced Isolation

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on isolation, a good friend pointed me to “the problem of isolation that people who have chronic illness have to deal with.  Not being able to get out and among people forces an isolation that is sometimes the worse thing about the illness.  I am not sure that most people understand that.” [HT: Bettye Forster]  I am grateful for this opportunity to be reminded of the community’s obligation to the individual and not simply the individual’s obligations to the group.  In philosophy this is known as “the problem of the one and the many.”  The “one” being the group or community, and the “many” being the various individuals that makes up the group.  Which is ultimate?  Is it the group or the individual?  As the great Christian apologist, Dr. Cornelius  Van Til argued, they are both equally ultimate since they both are represented in the Trinitarian God of Scripture who is both one and many (three-in-one). Now this creates a certain tension, yet it turns out to also be the answer. While the individual must serve the group, the group must also serve the individual member of the group.

In the case of forced isolation (e.g., due to age, illness, or even incarceration), a practical application of this idea would be that when an individual is unable to move in order to participate or be present with the group, the group must find ways of moving or enabling the individuals participation.  Communion is the goal.  Not simply the ability to “take the sacrament of communion,” which would be part of the goal, but also the actual implementation of what that sacrament represents:  communion between the individual and the community.  This can and should be accomplished in both formal and informal ways. First, by specific formal visitations by representative portions of the church e.g., the minister, elders, deacons, or a few members of the congregation gathering with the shut-in for worship and prayer.  Second, by way of informal visits, phone calls, cards and letters, gifts of food, etc. which are also means of expressing communion and bringing encouragement to the needy member.  “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Heb. 12:12-13).

“Out-of-sight, out-of-mind” is an easy thing to allow, but we must never leave anyone behind.  There are several categories of people who might fall into the category of “forced isolation,” either temporarily or permanently.  We must not forget them.  Every lamb in the flock is important.  “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” - Proverbs 18-1

Self-sufficiency is a sin. God made us to be dependent creatures; to live in community. We need each other: families, churches, and broader communities. Part of the self-deception of sin is the siren call to be our own god; to always do it our way. The problem with trying to be god is that the job is way too big for us and so, in order to maintain control, we must shrink our world and eliminate all threats. Eventually, everything becomes a threat and thus my world must continue to shrink. Everything out there becomes an enemy and we begin to speculate about what they’re up to. Proverbs 11:14 tells us that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” We need one another more than we think.

As we isolate ourselves we find it increasing hard to feel loved because we have forgotten how to love. Love is always about others; about sacrifice for others; about meeting the needs of others even before meeting our own needs. Loving God and loving our neighbors are the two greatest commandments. Denying ourselves is the starting place of following Christ. He gave Himself for the Church because He loved her. It’s only in losing our lives that we gain it; and more specifically, we lose our lives as we give for others. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).