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From Connie and I to you…

24/12/2012 Comments off

John 3:16 can give us the message of Christmas.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

While this verse is often overlooked as being a “Christmas verse” we can easily see the loving, giving heart of the Father in that he gave His only begotten Son.

God the Father set the example of giving, and it was carried on through the life of Christ while He lived here on this earth. Jesus said in,

John 14:9 ESV  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

This spirit of giving originated with the Father and radiated through the Son, and in turn Jesus commands us to do the same in,

John 13:34 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

This love is not based on feelings or emotions, otherwise Jesus would not have been able to “command” us to love. He is talking about the kind of love He had when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,

Luke 22:42 ESV  saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."

He is talking about each one of us doing our part in love regardless of what we “feel” like at any given moment.

This is the kind of love that will visit a new friend’s home and hold the hand of one who is discouraged. This is the kind of love that will cry with another who cries, and who rejoices with another who rejoices. This is the kind of love that will look “beyond faults” and see the need.

We encourage you at this wonderful time of year to appreciate our giving God once again, and to minister to the “one another’s” all around us.  We call it the ministry of investing in others without needing the credit.  This season should reveal Prophet, Priest and King to all of us.  And emanate from all of us.  Some from the Word, some from life you lead, the actions you take, the inconvenient moments we all have every day.  Thank you for sharing your lives with us.  So Connie and I want to extend you Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year!!! 

And He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:65-69 ESV)

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Happy Thanksgiving from Derek & Connie Iannelli-Smith

22/11/2012 Comments off

We wanted to take a moment to say ‘Thanks’ to you for being such an evidence of God’s grace in our life…

William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony made this proclamation in 1623:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

During this season of Thanksgiving, I thought the above words would serve as a reminder that we are to be a people with a thankful heart for the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. Someone once said that true Thanksgiving, is first “thanks”, then “giving”. How true that is! When we really realize all that God has done for us, especially in sending His Son, Jesus Christ to this earth over 2,000 years ago, our hearts are filled with thankfulness which moves us to a life of service for Him.

If we begin to believe that somehow it is “our” strength and ability that has produced our blessings we have become deceived by our own thoughts. Just before the God’s people were going into the Promised Land, Moses gave these final words to them:

10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,

Deuteronomy 8:10-11 (ESV)

Moses goes on to warn the people that often the times we are tempted to forget God the most are the times of prosperity.
Looking back on this past year, Connie and I have been blessed greatly through God’s vessel, you… however we must always recognize that without the hand of God and His precious anointing, all our labors will be in vain. During this season of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to express your appreciation to the Lord for His blessings upon our families and friends. Truly, He has been and continues to be a good God!
 
 
Thanksgiving Blessings,

Derek & Connie Iannelli-Smith

Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem

25/03/2012 Comments off

Thank you to christianaudio.com’s audio reviewer program for the opportunity to review this audio.  A humble blessing as usual!

One of the things that has always caused consternation with me about ‘church’ was the separation between ‘leadership’ and ‘laity’, or the professionalization of the ministry.  I will never forget driving to a ministry commitment with a newly invited friend, and about half way to our location, he started weeping.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “no one has every let me get into the game, thank you.”  Somehow it had been communicated to my friend that unless he was a pastor, went to seminary, and a part of ‘leadership’ he could never ‘get into the game’ of doing real ministry.  Given that 99% of the population is not in ‘full-time’ ministry as felt by my friend and many others, a treatise reminding us that business can be done for the glory of God is a refreshing change.  On top of that, renown author Wayne Grudem is one that can cause us to take a moment and pause on this topic acknowledging that scripture makes no divide between sacred and secular.

Does the Bible teach on the moral goodness of business?  Can I have a business, work for someone else, or do business with vendors for the glory of God?  Is business, employment, making a profit, competition, and meetings, something that can be done for the glory of God?  Wayne Grudem captures this misnomer regarding business and points us back to scripture.  An apt legitimizer of our secular days which can be redeemed looking toward restoration.

This book when it was originally released (2003) so moved me that I also invested in the Logos version so that I could readily share it with and invest in others.  Having this in audio form was a refreshing reminder to take application onward to implications.  The narrator was interesting, coherent, and enthusiastic about the material and author.  It was evident in inflection, timing, and meditative pauses to get you thinking.  Due to my current employment and being part of a team, it has been a good mission field to take study, prayer, and ‘church’ to real life and join Christ in what He is already doing in the day-to-day. 

  
This work was interesting to me, it inspired, and enlightened me in many ways.  As usual, Wayne Grudem makes you think, holds your attention, while presenting in a cohesive and yet appealing manner.  Refreshing also in that Grudem successfully conveys Biblical truth into the everyday.  I would highly recommend this work to others, with all world-views.

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus–Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson — Audiobook Review

25/12/2011 Comments off

Thank you Christianaudio.com Reviewers Program for the opportunity to review this book!

Do you really need another Christian Parenting book and is your parenting really Christian?

Elyse and Jessica evaluate their work by this scathing statement and even get bold enough to state that the best parenting book is the Bible, then why another one you ask?  Because many of them teach parents how to train up their children to be either Pharisees or Prodigals.  That is all about to change when Mother and Daughter describe how to parent with grace and an emphasis on the Cross.

As a biblical counselor I see many Christian parents, in their desire to raise godly children, lean toward rule-centered discipline. There is, however, a far more effective method–a gospel-centered, grace-motivated approach that begins with the glorious truth of God’s love for sinners.

In Give Them Grace, parents will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross–especially regeneration, adoption, and justification–to their children’s daily lives. Chapters address topics such as our inability to follow the law perfectly, God’s forgiveness and love displayed at the cross, and what true heart obedience looks like. Fitzpatrick and Thompson also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. Parents will find this book a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.

This was an exemplary and very interesting work, even now as kids have all grown and we are now interacting with grandchildren.  It challenged, inspired, and enlighten me to remember the gospel first for myself, and the benefits of making time in the moment with children.  Something not normally considered in the life of parenting or grand parenting.  The author(s) made me think about the ‘rules’ we have for the grandkids when they come over;

  1. No whining or complaining.
  2. Ask before you do anything.
  3. An adult will only ask you once.
  4. No tattle telling.
    In putting these through the grid, I see that every time we address these areas we get a chance to share the gospel with them, and it has been amazing to see the gospel of grace walked out as ages 5-10 respond differently to the same message.  I was made aware too, how these same ‘rules’ can can tend toward rule-centered discipline and I need to be cautious of that.  I thought the author(s) did a great job of holding my attention attention and the audio narrator even did a fantastic job of singing beautifully some of the songs in the book as well.  Elyse and Jessica presented gospel centered parenting information in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  Even the appendixes were fantastic, especially the gospel story to share with kids!  It goes without saying that

NANC

    counselor Elyse successfully conveys Biblical truth and ensures that the Bible is the final authority for all matters of parenting.  I highly recommend this book to any parents and grandparents who desire to supplement their Bible reading with gospel-centered application.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F19127003-19127005(ESV)

Awesome John Piper quote–Biblical Counseling discernment moment

19/11/2011 Comments off

As I look across the Christian landscape, I think it is fair to say concerning sin, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly” (Jeremiah 6:14 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F24006014(ESV); Jeremiah 8:11 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F24008011(ESV). I take this to refer to leaders who should be helping the church know and feel the seriousness of indwelling sin (Rom. 7:20), and how to fight it and kill it (Romans 8:13 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F45008013(ESV). Instead the depth and complexity and ugliness and danger of sin in professing Christians is either minimized—since we are already justified—or psychologized as a symptom of woundedness rather than corruption.
 
This is a tragically light healing. I call it a tragedy because by making life easier for ourselves in minimizing the nature and seriousness of our sin, we become greater victims of it. We are in fact not healing ourselves. Those who say that they already feel bad enough without being told about the corruptions of indwelling sin misread the path to peace. When our people have not been taught well about the real nature of sin and how it works and how to put it to death, most of the miseries people report are not owing to the disease but its symptoms. They feel a general malaise and don’t know why, their marriages are at the breaking point, they feel weak in their spiritual witness and devotion, their workplace is embattled, their church is tense with unrest, their fuse is short with the children, etc. They report these miseries as if they were the disease. And they want the symptoms removed.
 
We proceed to heal the wound of the people lightly. We look first and mainly for circumstantial causes for the misery—present or past. If we’re good at it, we can find partial causes and give some relief. But the healing is light. We have not done the kind of soul surgery that is possible only when the soul doctor knows the kind of things Owen talks about in these books, and when the patient is willing to let the doctor’s scalpel go deep.

Foreword to Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen

This reminded me of the classic CCEF Journal of Biblical Counseling Article; Counseling and the Problem of the Past by John Bettler, The Journal of Biblical Counseling • Volume XII • Number 2 • Winter 1994;

IV. Propositions

  1. We believe that a counselee’s personal past has a significant influence upon his development of his manner of life.
    We do not believe that the counselee is a helpless victim whose manner of life is determined by his past.
  2. We believe that a person creatively interacts with and interprets past events and incorporates his interpretation into his manner of life.
    We do not believe that a counselee so constructs his past that it has no necessary existence in history. Just as God acts and explains or interprets His actions, so the person interprets the actual events in his life.
    3. We believe that the Christian should seek to interpret his past as coming from God and for God’s glory; the unbeliever will distort the event with an explanation that does not honor God’s truth. He will resist the truth and endeavor to believe the lie.
    4. We believe that a counselee is not always aware of the assumptions, values, and habits which shape his manner of life.
    We do not believe there exists within the person an “unconscious,” i.e., an unexplored and largely unexplorable entity which drives his behavior.
    5. We believe that exploration of a person’s past may help to reveal to himself his manner of life.
    We do not believe that such exploration is always necessary to produce biblical change.
    6. We believe that change occurs in the present. It involves repentance for the distorted values and habits of a false manner of life, and the putting on of godly values and behavior patterns in the present.
    We do not believe that change occurs in the past through the reliving of past experiences or through emotional release of stored-up emotions (a process commonly called catharsis).
    7. We believe that God is sovereign over all the events of a person’s life and works providentially through those events to make Christians more like Christ.

My wife are currently involved in biblical discipleship with a couple and it was a great reminder of these things when we were reviewing the audio messages of Dave Harvey’s great book, “When Sinners Say I Do.”  Thanks Babe for 14 years of grace and mercy with this sinner.

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