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Archive for January, 2009


I voted for Charlie Crist reluctantly.  He opponent was even more liberal that this so-called Republican.  For some reason, he has the affections of the RNC (though perhaps this has changed with Michael Steele’s ascendency as GOP chairman today).  But Florida has suffered under his leadership.

Take this case in point-  like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.  Now they are hoping to pull out of Florida’s property insurance market after their rate hike increase was declined.  Gov. Crist’s response- “Good riddence.”

Gov. Crist must not have done his homework before making that ridiculous comment.  He is not thinking of the citizens under his  leadership.  In a tough recession, it makes no sense to kiss good jobs good-bye due to spite.

In my county alone, 1,700 people (many of them my neighbors) work at the regional office down the street from my home.  Many others are insurance agents.  People I knew are already thinking of leaving State Farm completely since they can’t bundle insurance anymore.  Agents will have to switch companies, if possible, or risk losing all their customers- and their jobs.

With job losses, their will be even more homes sitting on the market.  This will hurt those trying to sell and relocate.  Gov. Crist fails to see the ramifications of this decision.  Rather than working with State Farm to find a reasonable compromise and keep important jobs in the state, he dismisses an important part of Florida’s economy.

What Gov. Crist fails to recognize is there is also a property insurance crisis (as well as a health insurance crisis) in our state.  State Farm is not the first to find Florida a difficult place to insure homeowners.  The hurricanes earlier in the decade crippled many insurance companies.  The loser will be the homeowners who have often seen their rates double despite not making a claim.  Others have been cancelled and had to spend far more to become insured.  No big deal if you don’t have a mortgage.  Just invest the money you would have spent on insurance.  Oh, that isn’t working out well these days too.  But if you have a mortgage you must have insurance.

Rather than address any of these problems- Gov. Crist resorts to quips and spite.  Sadly, we have at least 2 more years of this ineptitude.

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This week I started reading Luke.  Part way through chapter 1 I decided to take the slow road instead of my typical 3 chapters/day.  I was struck by a few things that day and didn’t want to lose sight of them by thinking I needed to finish the chapter (or 3!). 

What struck me the last 3 days was the focus on mercy in chapter 1.

Zechariah and Elizabeth we aged, and barren.  Reminds you of Abraham and Sarah.  They had hearts for God, walking before Him blamelessly (vs. 6).  Yet, they were still barren.  She bore reproach in the community.  She wasn’t cursed by God, but people looked down on her.

  • “Your prayer has been heard.”  They had probably wondered if God had closed up shop.  But God heard the prayer.
  • “The Lord has done this for me.  In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”  God removed her misery, showing her mercy.  This prompted me to pray for God to show me mercy by removing my “disgrace among the people.”  He is not ashamed of me, but some people view pastors of failed churches as, well, failures whom they don’t want pastoring their churches lest they fail too.
  • When Gabriel revealed the Incarnation to Mary, she was obviously stunned.  Inconceivable!  He informs her that Elizabeth is pregnant.  “For nothing is impossible with God.”  Too often we are subject to low expectations.  Makes sense with people, but not God.  I found Him challenging my own meager faith- “Cavman, do you believe I can do great things for you?  Do you really think such things impossible?”  Sadly, yes.  I don’t want to be one of those people who thinks hardship isn’t God’s plan- but I also don’t want to think life is only hardship, or only hardship where I’m concerned.
  • “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”  She no longer resisted the thought, but embraced it.  Faith receives what God says and embraces what He brings to pass.  I want to have this attitude of submission- glad submission.

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I’ve done a few posts on A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent already.  This would be my review of this great little book.  As the title indicates, the focus on the book is on the gospel for Christians.  In the final part- Surprised by the Gospel- Pastor Vincent relates how he finally grasped that the gospel is ALWAYS the basis for our acceptance before God.  It is not just about our initiation to Christianity, and then we work our tails off to stay in God’s good graces.  He was at the end of his religious rope when he spent time meditating on Romans 5 and it all clicked for him.

The book includes a series of meditations on the gospel to rehearse or preach the gospel to yourself each day.  Then he includes 2 gospel narratives, one prose and the other poetic (see the Table of Contents and Forward). 

The heart of the book is really the meditations.  I recommend going through one a day, spending time to mull over the truth of what he is saying.  The goal is not to finish the book, but to sink the gospel and its implications increasingly deeper into your heart.  The gospel is not just about our justification, but about how Jesus severes the root of sin and is the power of godliness. 

“Never be content with your current grasp of the gospel.  The gospel is life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing truth.  It has more facets than a diamond.  Its depths man will never exhaust.”  C.J. Mahaney

So this little book is intensely practical.  I highly recommend getting a copy and keeping it handy to drink deep of the gospel.

I’ll close this with a quote from Horatio Bonar that he includes:

“Terror accomplishes no real obedience.  Suspence brings forth no fruit unto holiness.  No gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will.  But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches.  Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this.”

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You might be asking, “what happened to part 2?”  Part 1 was mistakenly saved as a draft instead of published, so Considering Proverbs and Work is actually part 2 of my review of A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio.  Did you catch that?  Do you care?

The third part of the book addresses wealth.  His little summary statement is : A Proverbs-Driven life understands the place and purpose of material wealth.  This is much needed in our day and place.  American Christians’ perspective on material wealth is only slightly less skewed than the average non-Christians’. 

Selvaggio starts by addressing the heart.  This is where all our problems with money and wealth come from- our bent toward selfishness.

“… money is not the basic problem at all, but rather our love for it. … The moral issues regarding wealth arise entirely from how we acquire it, relate to it, and use it.  In other words, the problem is us.”

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I’ve got to stuff all of Galatians 2 into one sermon.  Oh the madness and folly of it all!  One of my favorite works on Galatians is Luther’s commentary.  I don’t agree with all he says, but there are some great things in there.  He had … a way with words.   Let’s see some of it.

“The truth of the gospel is that our righteousness comes by faith alone, without the works of the law. The corruption or falsehood of the gospel is that we are justified by faith but not without the works of the law.

I like how he reminds us that most false gospels do not deny the need for faith, or Jesus.  What they deny is the sufficiency of Jesus’ work for us.  This is why they are so dangerous, there is an element of truth to be found in them.  Satan uses a little truth to float big lies.

“…we will suffer our goods to be taken away, our name, our life, and all that we have; but the gospel, our faith, Jesus Christ, we will never allow to be wrested from us.”

Martin points to how precious this gospel is- it is more valuable than our possessions, reputations, and even earthly life.  This is why Paul fought so vigorously for the “truth of the gospel”.

“We therefore make this definition of a Christian: a Christian is not one who has no sin, but one to whom God imputes not his sin, through faith in Christ. That is why we so often repeat and beat into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake.”

Imputation is a necessary element of the gospel.  Our sins are no longer imputed (or accounted) to us AND Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.  We must remember both.  We cannot bring both our own righteousness and Christ’s to God.  It is one or the other.  We need constant reminders of this truth because our default mode is to try and earn SOMETHING.  We want to contribute something (besides our sin) to salvation.  Jesus, save us from our pride.

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I consider Proverbs to be “preventative grace”.  It was initially written to prepare young men for adulthood by providing practical wisdom.  It was to help them avoid the pitfalls of life’s choices rather than get out of them.  So, when I saw Anthony Selvaggio’s A Proverbs Driven Life, I was interested.  When I was offered a copy for free to review- I was estatic.

Before Selvaggio gets into the various topics that Proverbs covers, he wants to orient people to what Proverbs are, and aren’t.  Since Proverbs is a book about wisdom, it is about everyday life.  It is not about laws & precepts (he hits that again in a later section) but more like signposts.  Proverbs are generalisms that help us to make good choices by cluing us in to the typical outcomes. 

We need this book because, as he says, “people make a lot of short-sighted, self-centered decisions.”  And those decisions bring lots of misery to them and others.  We are a people who profoundly lack wisdom.

Proverbs offers us future-oriented wisdom and guidance so we can make wise decisions and live in ways that please and exalt God.

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There is a new book out, Get Outta My Face: How to Reach Angry, Unmovtivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne, that offers assistance to families, ministers and counselors.  WTS Books has this book for 65% off , an introductory price of $4.88, until January 24, 2009 at noon.  Then it will be the customary 30% off, not a bad deal either.  [ WTS Books sold out, but received 500 more copies of the book.  When they are gone, so is the special price!]

Here is what some other authors have said about this book:

“Rick Horne has invested in teens his whole life. He has learned that he is more like them than unlike them. From years of first hand experience, he knows how to talk with them and his is not afraid of the tough ones. What you will read here is the wisdom of a man who has experienced the courage and hope that transforming grace can give to you and that hard teenager God has chosen for you to be near. This book is a call to action with biblical perspectives and practical steps that God can use to change the teenager and you as well.”  Paul David Tripp, author of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, co-author of How People Change among other books highly recommended by Cavman.

“Rick Horne knows teens the kind that won’t talk and those that won’t stop talking. If you have a teenager, you need this book. In fact, don’t wait for the teen years! Arm yourself now with the timeless truths from this book that counsels moms and dads with gospel-hope for teenage trials.”  Dave Harvey author of When Sinners Say “I Do”.  (Highly recommended by Cavman)

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