Tag Archives: Christmas

God, the House-building God

In 2 Sam. 7:2, King David noted the incongruity of him living “in a house of cedar, [while] the ark of God dwells in a tent.” He spoke with the prophet Nathan, who encouraged him in his plan to build a house—a temple—for God.

It was good that David wanted to build a house for God. It was precious in God’s sight that it was in David (initiated by God’s grace) to want to do something great for God because of his love for God.

“But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? . . . The LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house’’” (vv. 4-5, 11).

In grace God responded to David’s love by promising something for David that was infinitely greater than David could have ever imagined. Although David wanted to build a house for God, God said that instead He would build a house for David; not in a structural sense, but in a human sense. From David’s descendants would come a King—Jesus—who would reign forever. Through the coming Son of David, God promised to build the “House of David” and “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (v. 13). David would have the joy of knowing that one of his descendants would rule not only Israel, but the entire universe and do so forever.

God was far from finished, however, in astounding His people with the grace of His house-building work.

Now, God makes us—believers in Christ—His house. “We are the temple of the living God,” the Bible proclaims in 2 Cor. 6:15. Eph. 6:22 says of believers in Christ, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God Himself now dwells by His Spirit in the body of each individual Christian and also in unique ways when the body of believers (the local church) is assembled.

Thus God now promises something that in many ways is greater than the promise to David. Not that there is any gift greater than sending Christ, but greater than the satisfaction David had of knowing that one of his descendants would be the greatest king of all. Greater than the inward satisfaction of knowing that one of your descendants would rule forever is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Greater than any sense of gratification about what God would ultimately do through you is the Spirit of that King living within you from the first moment of faith and forever.

Then, in another stunning, gracious promise, God tells us there’s even more to His house-building. He not only indwells our bodies as His house (temple), He is preparing a place where our bodies can dwell with him forever. As Jesus said in Jn. 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” To think of living with that King in His heavenly home forever is a promise and a gift we could no more imagine or deserve than David could have dreamed of the house God would build for him.

Remember this when you think of the coming of Jesus. We gave Him no house—only a cattle stall—in which to be born. Later, as a man He would say, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20).

Despite how we shut Him out, He took upon Himself the sins that had shut us out of Heaven. And when we look to Him as our only door (Jn. 10:9) to God and Heaven, we will be welcomed by the Father. Then, like the astonishing outpouring of grace that He showed to David, He—the eternal King—is willing to make our bodies His house, and to give our newly-remade bodies a house with Him in glory forever.

Christmas Newsletter 2014

The Center for Biblical Spirituality

Christmas Newsletter 2014

from the W​hitney Family

 

Christmas greetings from the Whitney family!  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

 

What a year 2014 has been! But before I update you on the Whitneys and The Center for Biblical Spirituality, I’ll mention the following in hopes that they might serve you and/or your ministry.

 

Most immediately, these “Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering” may be of service in stimulating conversation in slow or difficult conversational settings in the next couple of days. I’m hopeful they’ll be especially useful in settings where you want to gradually bring the conversation around to the gospel.

 

Next, here’s a “Bible Reading Record” to assist you in reading through the Bible next year. Regardless of your pace or plan, this tool can keep you on track. Print a paper copy and cross off chapters as you read them, or download it to your smartphone or tablet and delete or italicize the chapters you complete each day.

 

 

In terms of family, the big news is that Laurelen is engaged. On March 28 she is to be married to Michael Müller. She met Mike at Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis where both are members. Laurelen graduated with her masters in music from Butler University in 2013, and has just completed a full year of teaching choral music at an inner city high school in Indy.

 

Caffy spends most of her days teaching private art lessons at her studio in the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville and teaching art & art history at a classical Christian school in town. Ever since we moved to Louisville in 2005 she has really enjoyed teaching a course for student wives one night a week each semester in the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern.

 

Personally, it was a once-in-a-lifetime year for publishing as providentially a number of projects came together within a few months of each other. Twenty-three years after the original appeared, the “Revised & Updated” edition of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life was released in July, along with the Revised & Updated companion Study Guide. Both are available on iBooks. Kindle editions of both the book and the study guide are also available.

 

In November my PhD thesis was published by Peter Lang international academic publishers. The title is Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry.Because it comes from an academic publisher and thus is printed in small quantities, the cost is prohibitive (the cheapest price is $73 on Amazon!). But if you are a student or work in academia, I would be grateful if you’d ask your library to order it. Libraries are Peter Lang’s primary marketing target anyway. Incidentally, Caffy drew the portrait of Edwards that graces the cover of the book.

 

I’ve delivered the manuscript to Crossway for Praying the Bible, which is due in July. I’m really excited about this. I love the cover they’ve designed. What do you think?

 

We re-launched the website in August. If you’ve never visited, give it a look atwww.BiblicalSpirituality.org. You’ll find hundreds of pages of free materials there designed to help you grow in Christ.

 

In September I started a blog about biblical spirituality. I try to post twice a week most of the time. Here’s the latest post, a “Tribute to the most prayerful man I’ve known.”

 

Most of my books are now available digitally for Kindle or on iBooks. Perhaps you are using one in a small group study or as a textbook and would find it handy to have a digital copy, or you just enjoy reading books on your mobile device. Like to listen to books? Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (original edition) is available via iTunes and www.christianaudio.com. Family Worship is also ready for listening via www.christianaudio.com.

 

Remember that these digital editions can also be sent as gifts through the source where you buy them.

 

If you’re active on Twitter and/or Facebook, you can follow my Twitter posts via @DonWhitney and get my Facebook feed by “liking” my page there.

 

 

“Finally, brethren, pray for us” (2 Thess. 3:1).

  • Pray for my ministry of teaching as professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. One out of five seminary students in America is in one of the six SBC seminaries, and the oldest and largest of these six is SBTS. We train students from all fifty states and dozens of countries, including more than half of the Master of Divinity students in the SBC seminaries. It is a solemn and joyful responsibility to prepare these students for a lifetime of service to Jesus and His kingdom.

 

  • Pray for our family. Many of you would not have heard that Caffy’s mom, who had stayed with us for about eighteen months, died in the autumn of 2013. My mother recently began her fifth year with us and is in good health. Caffy and Laurelen are deep into preparations for the March 28 wedding. Please pray for Mike and Laurelen as they prepare to unite and to spend their lives together for Christ and His kingdom.

 

  • Please pray for my preaching, teaching, and writing. This has taken me to 27 churches (in addition to denominational and pastors’ conferences) in 17 states and 3 countries outside the US via 84 airplanes and more than 61,000 miles in 2014.

At the close of this year, I want to express my thanks to all you who pray for us. Thanks also to those who send financial support to The Center for Biblical Spirituality. These are all gifts from Him “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Most of all, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift,” the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15). May the Lord greatly bless you this Christmas season!

 

By His grace and for His glory,

Don Whitney

10 Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met.

At other times we simply don’t know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.

Here’s a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialogue gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

  1. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since last Christmas?
  2. When was your best Christmas ever? Why?
  3. What’s the most meaningful Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
  4. What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you’ve ever given?
  5. What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?
  6. What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?
  7. What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?
  8. Why do you think people started celebrating the birth of Jesus?
  9. Do you think the birth of Jesus deserves such a worldwide celebration?
  10. Why do you think Jesus came to earth?

Of course, remember to pray before your Christmas gatherings.  Ask the Lord to grant you “divine appointments,” to guide your conversations, and to open doors for the gospel.  May He use you to bring glory to Christ this Christmas.

You can download this post as a bulletin insert here.