Put Off Your Old Self

Ephesians 4:20-24 – But that is not the way you learned Christ!–21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

2013-12-31 - Put Off Your Old Self (IMG_1594)Looking off our back deck at the final sunset of 2013.  Morrow, Ohio.

I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions and I don’t think I am going to start now.  In our Christian walk this should be a daily exercise, not something we resolve to do just once a year as we make the celebrated transition from December 31st to January 1st.

Thanks be to God!  We have been given the truth in Jesus!  It is only through the power of his blood shed on the cross that we are able to put off our old self and “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Be safe, God bless, and have a Happy New Year!

Yours in Christ,
Todd the Hiker

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

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The Bear Shall Graze

Isaiah 11:6-76 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

2013-12-09 - The Bear Shall Graze (IMG_8271)Grizzly bear along the trail to Iceberg Lake.  Glacier National Park, Montana.

(Not my best photography, I’ll admit, but when you are thirty yards from a grizzly bear in the wild, you tend to forget about swapping lenses and adjusting camera settings)

Today’s passage from Isaiah sounds rather absurd to anyone who has hiked in grizzly country, even to those who have not, for that matter.  I suspect that a fear of large predators keeps many people from venturing very far into the wilderness of places like Glacier National Park.  This fear is not totally irrational, just read some of the precautions that hikers and backcountry campers are told to follow.

As beautiful as God’s creation and creatures are, most people understand that there are risks in the outdoors.  And, whether or not a person is aware of the Judeo-Christian concept of the fall, I think everyone will at least acknowledge there are dangers, suffering, and even death in our world.  We live in a fallen world, where everything is corrupted by sin.  As Romans 8:22 tells us, “we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

Faced with an understanding of the effects of the fall, the scenario described by Isaiah seems strange to us in two ways.  First, there is the very unusual behavior of the animals, not something you typically see on nature programs.  And, second there is this seemingly odd notion that “a little child shall lead them.”  Even for Christians it all sounds rather foreign, because we, too, know well the realities of life here on earth.  But, as Christians we are blessed to know who this little child is.  It is the same child, the predicted Messiah, written about in yesterday’s passage from Isaiah 9.

It is the Messiah whose coming we celebrate on Christmas, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is only through his birth, perfect life, and undeserved death on the cross that these impossible sounding things become possible. It is only through his innocent blood shed on the cross that we will some-day be able to experience what we read about in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

An Interesting Read

Ryle

“Principles for Churchmen” by J. C. Ryle

Internet Archive download:  http://archive.org/details/principlesforchu00ryleuoft

One of the more useful secular resources that I have found in my perusal of the internet is the Internet Archive digital library.  This website has millions of old books that are no longer under copyright restrictions and which they have now made available for free download in electronic format (pdf, e-reader, etc.).  I have personally downloaded pdf versions of dozens of books, including Christian classics by the likes of Calvin, Luther, Hodge, and many, many others.

One book that I discovered, thanks to a reference in one of Tim Challies’ blog posts, is “Principles for Churchmen” by J. C. Ryle, a late 19th century Anglican bishop.  And, even though this book was published in 1900, much of what Ryle wrote is still highly relevant to today’s Christians.  In a few places the book gets bogged down in the politics and squabbles of the late 19th century Anglican church; but, that said, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I highly recommend this as a good read.

One of my favorite quotes (page 36):  “A Church which is a mere boneless body, like a jelly-fish, a colourless, bloodless, creedless Pantheon, in which every one is right and nobody is wrong who is in earnest, and in which it does not matter a jot what is preached and taught, so long as the preachers are sincere,—such a Church is an unpractical absurdity, and the baseless fabric of a dream.  The Church which abandons all “limits,” and will not proclaim to mankind what it believes, or would have its members believe, may do very well for Cloudland or Utopia; but it will never do for a world where there are tears and crosses, troubles and sorrows, sickness and death.”

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

A Few of My Favorite Internet Resources

With all of the frivolous material and garbage you find on the world-wide web these days, I thought it might be helpful to provide a list of some of the better internet resources I have discovered over time, and that I personally find useful in my Christian walk.  I know there are other good, even great, websites that I have not included in this list; however, time and space constraints limit what I can reasonably present here.  Many of these other resources will be found referenced in the websites listed below:

BibleGateway.com:  http://www.biblegateway.com/

  • This is a great website with numerous online translations of the Bible in English as well as many of other languages.  They have a helpful search capability that allows you to search scripture using keywords, phrases or specific passage references, and then compare the results between different translations.  In addition, they have several translations available in audio format which allows you to listen to scripture passages read out loud…I find this feature particularly useful in learning how to pronounce some of the more difficult names of places and people found throughout the Bible.
  • If you are looking for ways to grow in your personal Bible study habits and dig deeper into God’s word, either on your own or through some of the daily devotionals and Bible reading plans they provide, you will not be disappointed.  This is a wonderful resource!!!

e-Sword.net:  http://www.e-sword.net/

  • This is a Bible study software package that you can download for free from the e-Sword.net website.  I was skeptical at first—I usually am with “free” software downloads—but boy was I wrong!  I have found this to be a very well designed, “user-friendly” software package that has more features than I could possibly enumerate here, although I will point out a few.  I find this to be an indispensable tool for my own Bible study and research endeavors.
  • Some Bible translations, including the ESV, KJV, ASV, and several more, can be downloaded for free, but other popular translations, such as the NIV, NKJV, NASB, and RSV, must be purchased.  Personally I do not find this limiting as the ESV is the primary translation I use.
  • There are also Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, devotions, graphics (maps, charts, etc.), and reference books that can be downloaded, many for free, some for purchase.
  • I know there are purchased software packages used by professional ministers that probably run circles around this, but for the layman who cannot afford to spend that kind of money this is a great way to go.  I cannot say enough good things about this software!
  • To learn more about Rick Meyers, the creator of e-Sword, and the history of his “software” ministry go here:  http://www.e-sword.net/history.html.

The Gospel Coalition (TGC):  http://thegospelcoalition.org/

  • The Gospel Coalition was founded by D. A. Carson and Tim Keller, two big names in current reformed, evangelical circles.  The TGC website contains a plethora of resources, videos, blogs, and book reviews that are helpful, thought-provoking, timely, and relevant, all firmly rooted in biblical truth.
  • Other names frequently found on the pages of TGC include Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Trevin Wax, and many more.
  • There is so much useful material here it is impossible to cover it all in a short description.  If you want to learn more about TGC, you can find their  confessional statement and theological vision of ministry at this link:  http://thegospelcoalition.org/about/who.

Monergism.com:  http://www.monergism.com/

  • This is another website, much like TGC, that contains an incredible wealth of materials, all rooted in sound reformed, evangelical theology.  You will find many of the same names appearing here as you do on the TGC website.
  • To learn more about Monergism.com read their “About” page at this link:  http://www.monergism.com/about_us.php

Challies.com (a blog by Tim Challies):  http://www.challies.com/

  • The tagline for Tim’s blog is “…Informing the Reforming” which sums things up quite nicely.  Again, this is a site well rooted in reformed, evangelical theology—perhaps you are seeing a trend here?  Tim’s blog posts frequently challenge me to look at my own Christian walk and help me to see my own shortcomings.  I find his book reviews very helpful when I am in the market for new reading material to add to my library.  His writing style is quite witty and often humorous which makes reading this blog entertaining, as well as informative.
  • I think the focus of this blog is best summed up by Tim’s own description found on his About this Blog page:  This is a blog (or weblog)–a kind of online journal…[it is] a compendium of articles, information and book reviews. If the blog has a primary focus, it may be best summarized as “commentary on the contemporary church and its interaction with the culture around us.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/

http://www.sportsmensdevotional.com/

  • From the Sportsmen’s Devotional website:  “We provide the Christian outdoorsman a daily email Bible study that Sportsmen can relate to. Our study is short, to the point, and has a new photograph and outdoor tip each day. Our study is devoted to all that love the great outdoors.”
  • If you enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, and the outdoors their daily e-mail Bible study is a quick, easy read that you can use to get you started in developing a daily devotional routine or add to an already existing routine, without being overwhelmed.

http://archive.org/

http://openlibrary.org/

Note:  I plan to continue adding more resources and filling in more descriptions on this existing list over time.

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.