Made in America by Michael Horton

Made in America: The Shaping of Modern American Evangelicalism

This book gives an overview of the beginning of America and the roots of modern day American evangelicalism. Our founding fathers were not necessarily Christian, rather some were deists. This country was not founded as a Christian nation. Trying to “bring America back to its roots” is not going to make it a Christian nation again; it never was one.

I find it sad that many American Christians think the future hope of this nation is in who we elect for President or for other political positions. Our hope needs to be in God not people. And God is neither Republican or Democrat. In fact, God is not American. Shocking thought, isn’t it?

This book highlights how American evangelicalism has fallen into the trap of the culture we live in, being susceptible to relativism and materialism just like the people around us. Part of this is a result of succumbing to consumerism and marketing the church rather than preaching the truth, “dumbing down” the gospel in the hopes of bringing more people to Christ. But if we’re not preaching the true gospel of Jesus, what really are we drawing people to? We have become self-focused and individualistic, wanting what’s best for me rather than proclaiming God’s honor and glory. Biblical illiteracy is rampant among American Christians. We have to get back to the truths of Scripture.

Some quotes from the book:
“Does Christianity work? That depends on what one conceives the problem to be. If our most immediate problem is a new car, the healing of a physical ailment, or ‘winning friends and influencing people,’ then Christianity will not be practical…I am not saying that our faith has nothing to say about these things. But when we use the Bible as an answer book for the questions it does not consider important, we not only miss out on God’s best answers; we end up despairing of the Bible’s usefulness altogether. In other words, we have to go to the Bible not only for answers, but for questions. We need to find out what the most important – indeed, the most practical – issues really are.”

“Jesus is not there to fill whatever is lacking in our self-esteem or our self-fulfillment. He is there to slay our self-confidence and to place our confidence in him alone (Jeremiah 17:5, 7; Philippians 3:3).”

“The Great Commission was a command to make disciples, not to establish franchises for consumers.”

“…what we get from Scripture is that there is a real sense in which the gospel is not supposed to sell! If we succeed in making the gospel appealing to sinners on the basis of satisfying their consumer appetites, we have not succeeded at all.”

“We must stop mimicking the world in its search for self-actualization, the inner self, and other forms of narcissism.”

“When we turn to the Bible, not to learn from it or to be challenged by it, but to be merely inspired, we become the very relativists we disdain. Every time someone says, ‘This is what this verse means to me,’ or ‘God told me…,’ or ‘I know this might not be what this verse is saying, but the application is edifying,’ relativism sets in.”

“When truth has been defined in such terms as, ‘The Lord spoke to my heart…,’ and ‘The Lord revealed to me…,’ the objective authority of Scripture loses its importance.”

“One reason the Bible fails to be clear and authoritative is that so many Christians do not have a grasp of it major themes. It’s a lack of knowledge, of teaching and expository preaching. Children can grow up in some evangelical churches and, with the exception of a few proof texts and ‘promises,’ be biblically and doctrinally illiterate.”

“Until we stop thinking of our faith in merely subjective, experiential terms, the Bible will be nothing more than a source of quotes for wall plaques and greeting cards.”

“Correct praise, or worship, is the goal of correct theology. Doctrine is never an end in itself, but a warden for our conscience, emotions, and will, guiding us in correctly worshiping God.”

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Isaiah in Bible in 90 Days

I really enjoyed reading Isaiah during this Bible in 90 Days experience. It was interspersed with the Kings since I’m reading chronologically. I found it interesting that parts of Isaiah match parts of Kings in the historical detail. I love discovering new things about the Bible that I hadn’t realized before. Reading chronologically really brings things out with passages being together that normally aren’t read together.

I’ve been trying to be more intentional about journaling and making my journaling more interesting with doodling and coloring. I wrote out some of the verses from Isaiah in my journal. The picture is a bit blurry, here they are (these are in the New Living Translation as that is the version I’m using to read through the Bible in 90 Days):

Isaiah 44:24
“The LORD, your Redeemer and Creator, says: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. By myself I made the earth and everything in it.'”

Isaiah 45:5-8
“I am the LORD; there is no other God. I have prepared you, even though you do not know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things. Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.”

Isaiah 45:21b-23
“For there is no other God but me – a just God and a Savior – no, not one! Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word. Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”

Some powerful and wonderful verses declaring God’s greatness!

Bible Reading Plans

I’ve always loved looking at different Bible reading plans and finding interesting ways to read through the Bible. I’ve mentioned before my favorite reading plan so far is the Genres reading plan. I still highly recommend that plan as a way to read through the Bible without getting quite as bogged down in some of the more difficult books.

When I first signed up for the Bible in 90 Days plan, the chronological plan was offered for the first time, but unfortunately the first plan that was listed had some errors in it and was missing parts of the Bible. Jono and I found a chronological plan that we liked that was for reading through the Bible in a year and then we edited it down to the 90 days. The Bible in 90 Days hostesses were able to get a different plan listed which is being used for the current Bible in 90 Days participants. But Jono and I saved our version to use at a later date or to use for going through the Bible in a year.
 B90Days Chrono Plan-page-001
B90Days Chrono Plan-page-002

B90Days Chrono Plan-page-003
If you’re not able to read the above pictures, you can also find them on my Flickr page here for page 1, here for page 2, and here for page 3.

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, Jono and I began our married life together. Below is our rather unusual wedding story.

Jono & Debi (sometime back then 🙂

OUR WEDDING STORY:

Excited and full of anticipation, we started off early Thursday morning for Toledo, Ohio,
thoughts on being married… Finally.  Once there, we found a parking spot and walked
hand in hand to the nearby courthouse.  Arriving at the marriage license bureau, we went in and were asked to have our documents ready.  In a few moments, a clerk came to help us.
At that point, our hearts plummeted as we heard the words, “I need your other birth certificate.”   What other birth certificate?!  My (Debi) birth certificate did not have my parents’ names on it.  After trying to argue for a few minutes, we realized it was pointless and left devastated.  Not knowing if another birth certificate even existed, we headed for the car unsure and perplexed as to what to do.
The trip back to Lincoln Park was quite in contrast to the trip down.  Crying, quiet, questioning, once back home we began to make phone calls.  We talked to my dad and when he knew nothing about another certificate we realized it could be a month or more before we could get anything out of Bangladesh where I was born.  Calling the state department in Washington, D.C.  we were able to write a letter requesting a birth certificate but even so, that would take from 4-8 weeks to receive.
After mailing the request overnight mail we began to ponder where in the US we could get married without a birth certificate.  We began to call the closest states.  Calling Lexington, Kentucky, we discovered that we only needed to be over 18 and pay some money.  After calling to make an appointment with a judge, we decided to go for it.  We had nothing to lose by at least trying this new spur-of-the-moment idea.
Throughout all this we were praying desperately, asking for God to give us strength, praying that we might be able to still get married soon, but also praying that God’s will would prevail through this difficult and frustrating ordeal.
Within an hour we had loaded the car, stopped at AAA to get hotel reservations, and were on our way to Lexington, Kentucky.  Though concerned and anxious about what God’s plan might be through all this, we were determined to make the most of it all and have fun with the road trip.
We encountered some traffic delays due to construction, etc. and at one point traffic completely stopped.  As we “happened” to be right by an exit (obviously due to the grace of God), we decided to take our chances in unfamiliar territory and find a way around the problem.  Without a lot of difficulty we were able to make our way back to the interstate at a point beyond the apparent accident.
In only about 8 ½ hours we were able to make it to Lexington, a much shorter trip than we originally assumed.  We were still praying desperately for God to be honored in the whole experience.
Friday, October 10, 1997 we headed for the county clerk’s office anxious and prayerful. We knew that God could stop us from getting married at any time and though we were strongly hoping He wouldn’t, both of us were trying not to get our hopes up too high.
Walking into the marriage license bureau we were assisted right away.  Without even asking for our identification the clerk asked us a few questions, typed our answers, printed a marriage license, and had us sign it.  We asked for directions to the courthouse and decided to see if a judge was available.  Our appointment was for 3:15 pm and this was early morning.  After walking around trying to find it, we finally arrived at the courthouse.
We talked to a secretary who was able to locate a judge who was available.  His name was John Adams.  Once we got to his office, his secretary gave us a copy of the vows to look over.  Sitting there waiting we knew that it was still possible for God to stop the whole thing.  People kept coming in to see the judge, making us nervous that he would need to leave and not be available.  But in a few minutes we were standing before the judge, stating our vows, and exchanging rings.  And then we were declared husband and wife.
So at roughly 10 after 10 on the 10th day of the 10th month in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety seven we became Mr. and Mrs. Jono and Debi Martin.
In shock we left, hardly believing that it had really happened.  But a piece of paper and rings on our left hands testified that, sure enough, we were really married!!  And all within an hour to an hour-and-a-half from the time we walked into the clerk’s office to get the license.
That night we went to a steakhouse to celebrate our wedding dinner.  While there, the waiters and waitresses did a line dance in the aisles of the restaurant.  The waitress we had was very friendly and when we told her we had just gotten married she gave us a free appetizer.  The food was plentiful and delicious, much more than we could ever eat in one sitting.  The atmosphere was fun and relaxing, friendly and rejuvenating; such a contrast to Detroit.
Saturday we headed back up to Michigan, enjoying a gorgeous autumn day with colorful leaves and lakes and hills.  Sun shining, hearts full, we realized how much more fun the whole wedding experience had been than if we had gotten married in Toledo as originally planned.  Our whole focus had been on whether God wanted us to get married yet and on what His will would be in it all.  Starting off a marriage trusting God and looking to Him for guidance, praying continuously, we had ended up in the best possible plan. 

The New Normal

On June 19, 2004, our lives were forever changed by bringing home 2 new family members.

 Mocha

Storm

They were 6 months old at the time. For the last 8 years, they have added joy and entertainment to our lives with their affection, playfulness and cuteness.

 Sisters

And then we discovered that Storm had cancer. We had to say good-bye to our little girl. It’s amazing how one little kitty can leave such a huge hole in your life. She was so much a part of our daily lives, greeting us when we came home from work, sitting on our laps in the evenings or weekends while we watched TV, being vocal around 7:30 every evening when it was time for her wet food :-). The house is not the same without her in it.

We are incredibly thankful for the many years that we were able to enjoy her. She had a wonderful life, full of love and attention.

Whenever we experience the loss of someone or something in our lives, our lives are changed forever. It will never be the way it was. Instead, we go on to experience what has become the “new normal”. Now we have to adjust to life without Storm, to having a one-cat household with just Mocha. Life doesn’t always go the way we want, in fact it often isn’t what we expect it to be. I think God allows loss and trials in our life to remind us that this world we live in is temporary. It is not our forever home. We can’t get too comfortable here. An eternal home awaits us that is beyond our wildest dreams.

So thankful for the many wonderful memories that we have of Storm (and lots of pictures! :-). Thankful for the time that God allowed us to have her. What a blessing she was!

Praising God

So with the Bible in 90 days I’ve recently read a lot of the Psalms, including the last several that are focused on praising God. I find so many of the Psalms uplifting and encouraging. They remind us of the greatness of God, His power and His love. How great is our God!

When the bottom drops out of your life, praise God
When your wildest dream comes true, praise God
In the good, in the bad, praise God

He is worthy of our praise, regardless of what is going on in our lives. The whole earth belongs to Him and owes Him its praise. The Psalms challenge all creatures to praise God. In this fallen, sinful world, we are still to praise God.

Praise Him in the morning, even before having coffee.
Praise Him at noon, even before lunch.
Praise Him in the evening, even when you’re exhausted from a long day.
Praise Him all day long.

Bible Study Fellowship & Genesis

So I signed up for Bible Study Fellowship this year but after going for a couple weeks, I decided it was not for me. It wasn’t really what I was expecting and it was taking a lot more out of me than I was getting in return. They are currently doing the study of Genesis.

At our church, one of the current adult Sunday School classes is on Genesis 1-11. So I was thoroughly absorbed in Genesis 1 for a couple weeks. 🙂 Here is a poem I wrote concerning it:

God said and it was so
Immense power to command and go
Light from darkness He proclaimed
Plants and earth and life He made.

God declared and made it be
His will set forth for all to see
Creative power displayed in might
He made the day and also the night.

God before time created it
Put man on Earth for stewardship
He declared good all that was made
All glory to Him throughout displayed.