This has been quite a week for this preacher. I have been learning to write my d-min proposal at Southeastern in Wakeforest, N.C. Since this is Wednesday I may finally be getting it correct.
My topic -- "Developing a powerful prayer -life in the members at Calvary Baptist Church in Clinton, IA through expository preaching." I am going to look at 8 biblical passages and give a pre-test and post-tests to measure prayer and teach them to desire regular and passionate prayer with God; all done through expository preaching. This will be happen on Sunday evenings in my church soon.
If you can email (email@example.com) me links of book, magazines or journals that would help in my research I would appreciate it.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
This has been quite a week for this preacher. I have been learning to write my d-min proposal at Southeastern in Wakeforest, N.C. Since this is Wednesday I may finally be getting it correct.
Monday, May 28, 2007
There have been many scholarly and unimpeachable arguments written in opposition to the theory of evolution. Still, people will believe what they want to believe. Evolution theory has been pounded into the heads of children for many decades and it is very difficult to dislodge wrong thinking when so many teach that it is right.
In spite of this theory being promoted in almost every major theme of study (i.e. mathematics, social studies, history, psychology, etc.), the adoption of evolutionary beliefs by both science and academe has done nothing to better our society. No drunkard has repented; no harlot has left her profession; no thief has returned his booty because they were told their ancestors were apes.
Bad people have not turned good. The need for law enforcement has not decreased. Society has not realized a renaissance as result of some scientist shaking old bones at a news camera. The only way to impact positively on society and to change the individual is through the gospel of Jesus Christ the creator.
Recently, I came across comments made by Charles Darwin that would surprise evolutionists and creationists alike. What he said may not cause ardent evolutionists to abandon their erroneous beliefs, but it certainly will give them pause. One cannot deny the truth in Mr. Darwin's words.
He once wrote to a minister in the town where he lived and offered these words…"Your services have done more for our village in a few months than all our (speaking of scientists involved in evolutionary research) effort for many years. We have never been able to reclaim a single drunkard, but through your services I do not know that there is a drunkard left in the village."
Later, while visiting Tierra del Fuego, an island off the coast of South America, Darwin noted that the people were given to savagery and conduct not fit to be written about here. He said it was a "horrifying" place and he departed from that island in complete disgust. But, upon his return to this island after a missionary had worked with the people for many months, he was amazed at the cultural change that had taken place. He acknowledged that the gospel transforms lives. In fact, he was so moved by the work of the mission there that he personally and regularly contributed money to the work until the time of his death.
Perhaps this would explain why in his book on origins he used words like "maybe", "could be", "possibly" and "I think" more than 1600 times. Perhaps his admission of non-social relevance in his work and the obvious positive impact of religion caused him to doubt his own hypothesis. In any event, he doubtlessly had concerns about the usefulness of his theory for society. It is likely that the father of evolutionary theory would himself be saddened to know that it was his useless ideas that took the place of prayer and Bible study in our public schools.
To quote a very famous American "and now you know the rest of the story."
If evolutionists won't believe the evidence of the Bible, perhaps the words of the one they hold in highest esteem will resonate with them. Darwin said that evolutionary theory brings no benefit to mankind; only the gospel does.
The Apostle Paul has this advice for Christians, followed by an important question: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Ever heard of a group of scholars called the Jesus Seminar? I thought not. Most folks haven’t. Because the group employs the name of Jesus it’s necessary for outsiders to find out who they are and what they do. So let’s examine whether they are in the faith, or if they fail the test.
The Jesus Seminar (JS) was founded by the late Robert Funk of Westar Institute in 1985. What was Funk’s purpose for forming the group? To quote from Greg Koukl’s article, The Jesus Seminar Under Fire , Funk said, "It is time for us [scholars] to quit the library and study and speak up....The Jesus Seminar is a clarion call to enlightenment. It is for those who prefer facts to fancies, history to histrionics, science to superstition.”
For full article click here.
“What the Arminian wants to do is to arouse man’s activity: what we want to do is to kill it once for all - to show him that he is lost and ruined, and that his activities are not now at all equal to the work of conversion; that he must look upward. They seek to make the man stand up: we seek to bring him down, and make him feel that there he lies in the hand of God, and that his business is to submit himself to God, and cry aloud, ‘Lord, save, or we perish.’ We hold that man is never so near grace as when he begins to feel he can do nothing at all. When he says, ‘I can pray, I can believe, I can do this, and I can do the other,’ marks of self-sufficiency and arrogance are on his brow.”
C. H. Spurgeon
HT: The Expositor
Saturday, May 26, 2007
ARTICLE 7. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call an draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom 8:30).
To read the Synod of Dort click here.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the home of a new center that will promote the study of Baptist history and doctrine.
The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will be headed by noted church historian Michael A.G. Haykin, who was appointed last week as professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern.
The center is named in honor of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), an early 19th century British Baptist pastor/theologian who opposed aberrant doctrine among Baptists in England and was instrumental in the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society. Fuller was a contemporary of William Carey, founder of the modern international missions movement.
“When English Baptist life was threatened by the winter chill of hyper-Calvinism, Andrew Fuller warmed the churches with the free offer of the Gospel, and thus fueled the modern missions movement,” said Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration.
“The Fuller Center will exist to promote a Baptist theology that equips churches and pastors to both contend for the faith and plead for the lost. The Fuller Center will hold conferences on the campus of Southern Seminary, beginning with the August conference on Andrew Fuller, and will publish materials including a journal and Internet-based resources on warm-hearted convictional Baptist theology.”
Click here for more.
Book Review: The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World
Can early church history change the way Christians think about evangelism, relationships, church growth, and cultural change? Historians have consistently struggled to account for the phenomenal ascent of Christianity from backwater sect to official religion of an empire. Sociologist Rodney Stark boldly challenges prevailing academic assumptions, rejecting the common sociological assumption that religious belief is inherently irrational. In the process, Stark provides surprising insights into the sources of Christianity’s rapid expansion. A fascinating historical and sociological study, The Rise of Christianity demonstrates how much today’s church can learn from studying yesterday’s church.
Despite a dearth of hard statistical information from the early Christian period, Stark’s eclectic use of research tools points suggestively to key elements of early Christian expansion. Perhaps most encouragingly, Stark breaks down the astonishing growth curve of the early church. The few thousand believers in Palestine had blossomed to the majority faith by the time of Constantine. While the three centuries of sustained church growth are astonishing, Stark demonstrates that such growth could result from 40% growth per decade. On a yearly basis, that represents roughly 3.5% growth. A congregation today could outpace the early church with average sustained growth of 4% each year. Would such a figure change the way church leaders think about healthy church growth? Read more…
So much is at stake in the Christian faith in terms of the truthfulness of Scripture. The Bible is our primary source of information about Jesus and about all of those things we embrace as elements of our faith. Of course, if the Bible isn’t true, then professing Christians are in serious trouble. I believe the Bible is true. I believe it is the Word of God. As Jesus himself declared of the Scripture, “Your word is truth.” But why am I persuaded that the Bible is the truth?
We need to ask a broader question first. How do we know that anything is true? We’re asking a technical question in epistemology. How do we test claims of truth? There is a certain kind of truth that we test through observation, experimentation, eyewitness, examination, and scientific evidence. As far as the history of Jesus is concerned, as far as we know any history, we want to check the stories of Scripture using those means by which historical evidence can be tested—through archaeology, for example. There are certain elements of the Scripture, such as historical claims, that are to be measured by the common standards of historiography. I invite people to do that—to check it out.
Second, we want to test the claims of truth through the test of rationality. Is it logically consistent, or does it speak with a “forked tongue”? We examine the content of Scripture to see if it is coherent. That’s another test of truth. One of the most astonishing things, of course, is that the Bible has literally thousands of testable historical prophecies, cases in which events were clearly foretold, and both the foretelling and the fulfillment are a matter of historical record. The very dimension of the sheer fulfillment of prophecy of the Old Testament Scriptures should be enough to convince anyone that we are dealing with a supernatural piece of literature.
Of course, some theologians have said that with all of the evidence there is that Scripture is true, we can truly embrace it only with the Holy Spirit working in us to overcome our biases and prejudices against Scripture, against God. In theology, this is called the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. I want to stress at this point that when the Holy Spirit helps me to see the truth of Scripture and to embrace the truth of Scripture, it’s not because the Holy Spirit is giving me some special insight that he doesn’t give to somebody else or is giving me special information that nobody else can have. All the Holy Spirit does is change my heart, change my disposition toward the evidence that is already there. I think that God himself has planted within the Scriptures an internal consistency that bears witness that this is his Word.
In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.
First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living-a certain recipe for compromise.
Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.
Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).
Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).
Friday, May 18, 2007
Here are somethings to ask yourself today? Am I suffering for Jesus Christ in my life? Am I bearing in my body the marks of serving the Lord Jesus? Is my flesh winning the war in the struggle against sin in my life and am I experiencing daily victory over it in my walk with Him? Suffering for Christ is going to happen, not maybe, but it will happen. The Christian should learn to rejoice and rely on God in times of suffering.
Look up and enjoy these encouraging words from Thomas Brooks.
You have afflicted me(Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word." Psalm 119:67 God's corrections are our instructions, His lashes are our lessons, His scourges are our schoolmasters, His chastisements are our admonishments.
By afflictions, troubles, distresses and dangers--the Lord teaches His people to look upon sin as the most loathsome thing in the world; and to look upon holinessas the most lovely thing in the world. Sin is never so bitter, and holiness is never so sweet--as when our troubles are greatest and our dangers highest. By affliction, the Lord teaches His people to sit loose from this world, and to be prepared for eternity. By affliction, God shows His people the vanity, vexation, emptiness, weakness, and nothingness of all createdthings; and the choiceness, preciousness and sweetness of communion with Himself.It has been the lot and portion of God's dearest children, to be exercised with very great and grievous afflictions; in order . . . to the discovery of sin, to the embittering of sin, to the preventing of sin, to the purging away of sin; and to the discovery of grace, to the trial of grace, to the exercise of grace, to the increase of grace; and to the weaning of them from this world; and to the ripening of them for heaven; and to the completing of their conformity to Christ, the captain of their salvation, "who was madeperfect through sufferings," Hebrews 2:10; andto work in them more pity and compassion to those who are in misery, and who sigh and groan under their Egyptian taskmasters.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/18/2007
If God is all powerful, then why does he allow suffering?
A controversial book on this matter was titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. A common objection to religion is, How can anybody believe in God in light of all of the suffering that we see and experience in this world?
John Stuart Mill raised this classic objection against the Christian faith: If God is omnipotent and allows all this suffering, then he is not benevolent, he is not a kindhearted God, he is not loving. And if he’s loving to the whole world and allows all this suffering, then he’s certainly not omnipotent. And given the fact of evil, or the fact of suffering, we can never conclude that God is both omnipotent and benevolent. As brilliant as John Stuart Mill is, I have to demur at that point and look at what the Scriptures say about these things.
Keep in mind that from a biblical perspective, suffering is intrinsically related to the fallenness of this world. There was no suffering prior to sin. I interpret Scripture to say that suffering in this world is part of the complex of God’s judgment on the world. You are asking, How can a righteous judge allow a criminal to suffer? How can a just judge allow a violent offender to be punished? The question we should ask is, How can a just judge not allow punishment for those who have committed acts of violence or crimes of any sort? Behind that question always stands the holiness of God and his perfect righteousness. Our understanding of God is rooted and grounded in the teaching of Scripture that he is the just Judge. The Judge of all of the earth always does right.
In the ninth chapter of John, the Pharisees say to Jesus, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his sin or the sins of his parents?” Jesus said, “Neither one.” We can’t come to the conclusion that an individual’s suffering in this world is in direct proportion to that individual’s sin. That was what Job’s friends did when they came to him and tormented him by saying, “Boy, Job, you’re really suffering a lot. This must be an indication that you’re the most miserable sinner of all.” But the Bible says that we can’t use such a formula. The fact is, if there were no sin in the world, there would be no suffering. God allows suffering as part of his judgment, but he also uses it for our redemption—to shape our character and build up our faith.
We often rush when we should plod, forgetting that we usually accomplish more by persisting than by hurrying. Sheldon Jackson was born on May 18, 1834 in the Mohawk Valley of New York. When he was four his parents dedicated him to God’s service, and his ambition from youth was to be a missionary.
After graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary, he joined the thousands trekking to the American West. Most were searching for gold, land, and open skies. Wagon trains were leaving St. Louis daily. The golden spike tied East to West in 1866 as the Union Pacific Railway opened. Boom towns arose. Cowboys and mining camps, rowdy saloons and gunfighters filled the frontier. Jackson was everywhere, searching for souls with the fervor of a prairie fire. He once organized seven churches in 15 days.
He stood just over five feet tall, but his size, he said, allowed him to sleep anywhere. His bed was a stagecoach floor, a saloon loft, a hollow log, a teepee, a canoe. Someone described him as “short, bewhiskered, bespectacled, but a giant.” And his field was immense. He served as superintendent of Presbyterian missions from New Mexico to Minnesota.
When the United States purchased Alaska, he headed there at once, and the North soon became his passion. He explored the dangerous, uncharted fog-hidden coasts of the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. He established schools for the young and placed missionaries in the hamlets. He evangelized, established churches, and brought Bibles to the Eskimos. He worried that explorers and exploiters were slaughtering whales and seals, depriving Eskimos of their natural food supplies. So, braving criticism and ridicule, Sheldon raised $2,000 and brought reindeer from Siberia. Soon great herds were providing transportation, food, clothing, and livelihood for the people.
Sheldon made 26 trips to Alaska, and during 50 years of ministry he traveled a million miles through the West and North. He oversaw the establishing of 886 churches. Few men have ever so planted the Christian faith over such a wide area. His secret? His friends simply explained, “He never hurried. He just persisted.”
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age, written by Tyler Wigg Stevenson, is addressing how consumerism has affected how Americans view Jesus and the Bible and how his message has become distorted by the power of the economy.
“I hope (this book) can serve as a wake-up call for the American church,” explains the 29-year-old author, in a statement. “We have turned the lifelong activity of faith into the commodity of belief. And in the marketplaces of our churches, from the humble roadside stands to the gleaming ‘Christian lifestyle center’ shopping malls, we hock our product: that best-selling, inexpensive, factory-made, lifestyle-enhancing, identity-defining, eternal-life-giving, easy-to-use, soul-stain remover – Brand Jesus.”
To start his argument, Wigg Stevenson points readers to the book of Romans written by Apostle Paul. Through Paul’s situation in Rome, the author draws parallels to the United States, especially since America now, like Rome then, is a major center of commerce in the world.
For full article click here.
Tagged by Justice at 5/17/2007
What do leftist, mostly secular elites share with medieval sinners?
They feel bad that the way they live sometimes doesn’t quite match their professed dogma.
Many in the medieval church were criticized by internal reformers and the public at large for their controversial granting of penance, especially to the wealthy and influential. Clergy increasingly offered absolution of sins by ordering the guilty to confess. Better yet, sometimes the well-heeled sinners were told to pay money to the church, or to do good works that could then be banked to offset their bad.
Of course, critics of the practice argued that serial confessions simply encouraged serial sinning. The calculating sinner would do good things in one place to offset his premeditated bad in another. The corruption surrounding these cynical penances and indulgences helped anger Martin Luther and cause the Reformation.
Maybe it was inevitable that the old practice of paid absolution would appeal to elite baby boomers — a class and generation that always seems to want it both ways by compartmentalizing their lives. The only difference is that the new sinners are not so worried about God’s wrath as they are about their reputation among their judgmental liberal gods.
Take the idea of “carbon offsets” made popular by Al Gore. If well-meaning environmentalist activists and celebrities either cannot or will not give up their private jets or huge energy-hungry houses, they can still find a way to excuse their illiberal consumption.
For full article click here.
Tagged by Justice at 5/17/2007
What an awesome task it is to serve the God of the universe in our daily lives. Personally I am overwhelmed at the idea! It is a challenge each and every day to serve Him in sweet obedience. Many in our age think that the church is a system of professionalism. I beg to differ! There must be a seperation between the world and the church. To many churches today are letting the world come inside and determine the way things should be. Friend, that shouldn't be Scripture should be the guide, not the world. John Piper hits the nail on the head this week in his devotion. I hope you will take the time to read it.
Click here for the devotion.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/17/2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“ ‘ This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
As Sean Connery asked Kevin Costner in the Untouchables; What are you prepared to do??
If any of this applies to you - I pray for you and your situation. I have been there to. But, pay special attention to Revelation 2:5 and the verses from Mark, and be willing to risk your pulpit to change it - risk it all for Christ and His kingdom!
Tagged by Justice at 5/15/2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sanctuary or Spectacle?
I was recently asked by a group of women in our church to speak to them about the Bible: its reliability and its relevance. I began by sharing the historic Christian conviction that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible. This means that the Bible contains no errors. “All Scripture is breathed out by God”, says the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16. This means that even though God employed various human writers (Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul) God is the Bible’s ultimate author. God-selected human writers, in other words, wrote precisely what God wanted them to write. So, because the author of the Bible (God) is perfect, the content of the Bible is perfect. However, when I was talking with the women I acknowledged that the reliability of the Bible is not where people typically struggle the most. As modern men and women, our struggle revolves around the relevance of the Bible for today. Does the Bible really speak to life in the 21st century? Our suspicions concerning the Bible are not so much geared toward its integrity but its sufficiency. This is perhaps most obvious when it comes to the way some Christian leaders determine how they’re going to “do” their worship services. Let me explain what I mean.
Many Christians tend to believe that in order to reach the world they must become just like the world. So with good intentions, they strive to look like the world, talk like the world, sound like the world, and act like the world. Sadly, cultural trends rather than God’s truth are what guide and shape the labors of some well-meaning Christians these days. Many ministries have orchestrated their efforts according to the tastes of this world, asking the world what they like and then giving the world what they want. The question, however, ought to be, “Does the Bible have anything to say about how we worship? Is the Bible a sufficient guide, a relevant manual, regarding how we worship?” The answer is: yes!
For example, Isaiah 6 teaches us something foundational about public worship. If you read the first few verses you’ll notice the first thing Isaiah encounters in the house of God is the glory of God. It doesn’t first say he encountered friendly faces or hot coffee, or soft bagels or a booming sound system. It says he encountered the glory of God. In the Bible, the glory of God is God’s “heaviness”, his powerful presence. It is God’s prevailing excellence on display. In God’s house, Isaiah meets a God who is majestically in command.
What does this mean for our worship services? It means we ought to come expecting to encounter the glory of God, his powerful presence, first and foremost. We want to sing of who he is and hear of what he’s done. We come to feel the grief of our sin so that we can feel the glory of his salvation. We come, in other words, to see God on display, not preachers or musicians. A worship service is not the place to showcase human talent. It’s the place for God to showcase his Divine treasure. A worship service that contains the power to change you is a worship service that leaves you with grand impressions of Divine personality, not grand impressions of human personality. Isaiah did not leave the temple thinking, “What great music, what a great building, what a great preacher.” He left thinking, “What a great God.” This is why songs and sermons need to be about God first. Everything done in worship ought to communicate God because it is God and God alone who can transform your life and mine. Seeing me will not help you. Seeing God is the only thing truly capable of moving you from one place to another. This is the truth that led Dr. John Piper to ask, “How shall entertaining worship services – with the aim of feeling light hearted and friendly – help a person prepare to suffer, let alone prepare to die?" Amen!
The Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family held a three-day summit this week to challenge evangelicals to adopt foster children. The federal government estimates that there are half a million kids in foster care in the United States. Some 115,000 are awaiting adoption.
The pilot project in Colorado is meant to serve as a national model. On the last day of the summit, churches from Colorado's biggest cities are being brought in to be "challenged" to get their members to adopt.
Click here to listen.
When we talk about the difference that being a Christian makes in life, not just in marriage, we point to the reality that as Christians we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, who is working within us to give us assistance to be obedient to the commandments of God. We also realize that simply because we are Christian, we are by no means exempt from sin. Christians sin. We all sin and we all continue to sin. So the fact that we are Christians is no guarantee that our marriage relationships will be what they ought to be.
I’ve mentioned on many occasions that I’m always distressed when I hear of pastors who are so zealous to reach people with Christianity that they make promises I don’t think God ever dreamed of making to people. They will say things like, “Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved.” In my experience as a Christian and one who was suddenly and dramatically converted from a pagan lifestyle, I think that my life didn’t get complicated until I became a Christian because now I’m engaged in conflict such as I never knew before. There is conflict between the desires that come out of my heart that are not righteous and what God’s Word is saying I should be doing.
If there’s any great advantage of being a Christian, it’s the advantage of having at our disposal the wisdom of God. For any human relationship to survive disputes, disagreements, struggles, and the adjustments that all human relationships go through requires more than simple moral character. It requires great wisdom. The wisdom to handle conflict in human relationships is available to us from the Word of God. We’re told, for example, something as simple as this: A soft answer turns away wrath. We’re instructed by those principles of wisdom how to avoid the kind of spirit that destroys relationships. Think for a minute about the gamut of emotions we go through in our friendships and our marriages. I’ve always said there’s no human being in the world who can make me more angry than my wife can. There’s no one in the world whose criticism can hurt me more than my wife’s because her opinion of me means more to me than anybody else’s. I have to know how to handle my emotions in that very volatile and vulnerable relationship. The Scriptures teach me that there is a difference between hurt and grief and bitterness. I’m allowed to be hurt. I’m allowed to grieve. But I’m not allowed to be bitter. I’m allowed to be angry, but I’m not allowed to let the sun go down on my wrath. The application of those principles that God gives to us goes a long way in helping us and many other people through these rough spots in human relationships.
That is a great question to ask ourselves in the ministry? Sometimes as pastors we get so busy that we forget the things around us; including our own families. I guess it could also happen outside the ministry. What an encouraging devotion today by John MacArthur, he is currently going through the lives of the 12 disciples in his devotional series found at www.gty.org.
Click here for his devotional.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/14/2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
I got to agree with AW Tozer on this one. Really many people quit going to church because they are not fed a steady, healthy, spiritual diet of the Bible. I just meet a lady in the Dr.'s office the other day that said her and her family quit going to church because of the lack of spirituality. It could be an excuse, but let it serve as a challenge to us as pastors to preach God-honoring expositional sermons from the Word of God. People in the pews are starving for spiritual truth and may or may not even know it. Like Steve Lawson says there is a famine in the land!
Click here to read to read Tozer's devotion for today.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/11/2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
A Call to the Perverse
"But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jude 17-23). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Tagged by Justice at 5/08/2007
Monday, May 7, 2007
Click here for video.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A controversial religious figure who claims he is Jesus Christ incarnate with a following of millions with "666" tattoos on their bodies, filled an amphitheater in Orlando this weekend, and promised joy, peace and prosperity.
Orlando police officers stood guard around the Lake Eola amphitheater as Dr. Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, 61, arrived in the city Saturday.
Miranda, who has been banned from three countries, told Local 6 News cameras and a cheering crowd that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated.
His followers believe that Miranda's life and his teachings replace those of Jesus of Nazareth, Local 6's Jamie Guirola said.
"They believe that Jesus is going to come from the sky," Juan Sanchez said. "But, that is not the way he is going to come."
"He is here?" Guirola said.
"He is here." Sanchez said.
Miranda said millions of people worldwide have tattooed their bodies with "666" in recognition that the second-coming of Christ has taken place, according to the report.
"I have it proudly on my hand," a believer told Local 6's Jamie Guirola. "It is easier when they shake my hand. It is easier for them to ask. I am very proud to show it is a sign of love."
A group of Christians protested the event, calling the following a cult. Police also removed two people from the amphitheater.
"We are just questioning their faith and their '666' tattoos," a protestor told Local 6. "We just want to learn more so we can relate more between being a Christian and believing in this and who the true Jesus is."
Miranda said he is known as God in at least 30 countries.
Local 6 reported that he was born in Puerto Rico and admits to being a recovering heroin addict. He also spent times in prison on drug and petty theft charges.
Miranda is the founder of the Miami-based Growing in Grace Ministry.
The 2007 Catalyst Conference will be taking place this October, and long-time colleagues Rick Warren and New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet will be speakers.
Warren and Sweet were both instrumental in helping set the stage for the emerging church movement. And even though Leonard Sweet has been an avid promoter of New Age ideas for a long time, Warren has exhibited continued comradeship with him. In 1995, the two did an audio series called The Tides of Change. In the audio, they spoke of "new frontiers," "a new spirituality," and "waves of change." In more recent days, with Rick Warren's New Reformation and Global Peace Plan, those "new frontiers" have begun to take shape.
A few years prior to The Tides of Change series, Sweet wrote a book called Quantum Spirituality.* This book reveals the nature of Sweet's spiritual affinities as he talks about "christ-consciousness" and a "New Light" movement. Ray Yungen explains further:
In it [Quantum Spirituality], Sweet thanks interspiritualists/universalists such as Matthew Fox (author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ), Episcopalian priest/mystic Morton Kelsey, Willis Harman (author of Global Mind Change) and Ken Wilber (one of the major intellectuals in the New Age movement) for helping him to find what he calls "New Light." Sweet adds that he trusts "the Spirit that led the author of The Cloud of Unknowing."
In the preface of the same book, Sweet disseminates line after line of suggestions that the "old teachings" of Christianity must be replaced with new teachings of "the New Light." And yet these new teachings, he believes, will draw from "ancient teachings" (the Desert Fathers). This "New Light movement," Sweet says, is a "radical faith commitment that is willing to dance to a new rhythm."
Throughout the book, Sweet favorably uses terms like Christ consciousness and higher self and in no uncertain terms promotes New Age ideology:[Quantum Spirituality is] a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience....
Sweet also tells his readers that humanity and creation are united as one and we must realize it. Once humanity comes to this realization, Sweet says:
Then, and only then, will a New Light movement of "world-making" faith have helped to create the world that is to, and may yet, be. Then, and only then, will earthlings have uncovered the meaning ... of the last words [Thomas Merton] uttered: "We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity."
Leonard Sweet is what could be called an Alice Bailey Christian because his views on the role of mysticism in the church are evident. He states:
Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center.... In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, "The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing." [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology. (from A Time of Departing, pp. 156-160)
A few years after Rick Warren and Len Sweet did the audio series together, Warren endorsed the front and back cover of Sweet's book, Soul Tsunami. Of Sweet's book, Warren said: "[S]uggests practical ways to communicate God's unchanging truth to our changing world." However, the "practical ways" that Sweet shares in the book include a labyrinth and visiting a meditation center. Sweet also says in the book, "It's time for a Post Modern Reformation," adding that "The wind of spiritual awakening is blowing across the waters." He says that times are changing and you'd better "Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die" (p. 75).
If Rick Warren is no longer in agreement with Leonard Sweet, then doesn't he have an obligation to speak up publicly and warn people, especially in light of his previous role in helping to spread Sweet's message? And if he does not support Sweet's message, why would he speak with him at the Catalyst Conference, which will only further paint a picture of mutual spiritualities between the two men?
These occurrences between the two men are not mere examples of guilt by association. Doing an audio series together and endorsing the cover of a book is rather guilt by promotion. Speaking at the same conference is just a reminder of this. On Rick Warren's website (another sign of Warren's acceptance of Sweet), Sweet is quoted as saying: "The essence of connectivity is, 'I can't be me without we.'"1
Based on Rick Warren's consistent record of promoting contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation or mysticism), Warren is as much in support of Leonard Sweet's teachings today as he was in 1995 when The Tides of Change came out. And Sweet's reinvent or die theology is similar to Warren's Resisters, Leave or Die.
The Catalyst Conference, incidentally, will be promoting contemplative in other ways too. Under the LAB called "Passion," Mark Batterson will be teaching. A recommended reading list on Batterson's website includes some of the most staunch New Age/meditation promoters like: Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Eckhart Tolle, Henri Nouwen, Daniel Goleman (author of The Meditative Mind) and Mormon New Ager Steven Covey.
Erwin McManus will also be speaking at the conference. A recent article, Erwin McManus: The Secret Behind the Secret, revealed that McManus resonated with the new channeled film, The Secret.
On the Catalyst website it says the event will be a convergence of leaders that will shake you to the core. Unfortunately, we believe this shaking will drop unsuspecting participants (including thousands of young people) into the hands of deception. We hope the organizers of the event will come out in the open and admit that some of the speakers there have New Age proclivities and may pass these on to those in attendance.
Ventura, CA) - Mothers inhabit many roles inside and outside the family. Within the household, they are often counted on to be the emotional compass, organizer, and multitasking manager of the family. Add to that list another common function: spiritual energizer.
According to a new Barna study, women who are raising children are among the most faith-minded and spiritually active segments of the American population. The study explored faith-related activities, commitments and perspectives, relying upon nationally representative interviews among more than 10,000 adults and nearly 2000 women who are currently parenting children under the age of 18.
The study shows that more than three-quarters of moms identify "family" to be their highest priority. At the same time, a majority of mothers strongly agree that their faith is very important in their life. In contrast, fathers also tend to list family as their top priority in life, yet they are much less likely to equally attribute importance to faith.
For full story click here.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
One often forgets to praise God for the salvation that He has granted to them. Once again I am reminded this morning of how praise to God needs to be uttered from our lips as believers in Jesus Christ. To many times people forget to just praise God for saving and keeping them. I hope you will begin sensing that you need to praise God for electing you to salvation if you are in Christ.
Here is a devotion this morning from CH Spurgeon. He clearly had the attitude that God elects and chooses whom He will save. It never became an issue for Spurgeon and the other great Calvinists of the past.
Spurgeon's devotion for today:
"I will be their God, and they shall be my people."2 Corinthians 6:1.
What a sweet title: "My people!" What a cheering revelation: "Their God!" How much of meaning is couched in those two words, "My people!" Here is speciality. The whole world is God's; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord's, and He reigneth among the children of men; but of those whom He hath chosen, whom He hath purchased to Himself, He saith what He saith not of others--"My people" In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the "Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." All the nations upon earth are His; the whole world is in His power; yet are His people, His chosen, more especially His possession; for He has done more for them than others; He has bought them with His blood; He has brought them nigh to Himself; He has set His great heart upon them; He has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish. Dear friends, can you, by faith, see yourselves in that number? Can you look up to heaven and say, "My Lord and my God: mine by that sweet relationship which entitles me to call Thee Father; mine by that hallowed fellowship which I delight to hold with Thee when Thou art pleased to manifest Thyself unto me as Thou dost not unto the world?" Canst thou read the Book of Inspiration, and find there the indentures of thy salvation? Canst thou read thy title writ in precious blood? Canst thou, by humble faith, lay hold of Jesus' garments, and say, "My Christ"? If thou canst, then God saith of thee, and of others like thee, "My people;" for, if God be your God, and Christ your Christ, the Lord has a special, peculiar favour to you; you are the object of His choice, accepted in His beloved Son.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/05/2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
List Prepared by Dr. Al Mohler.
The Message of the Old Testament
by Mark Dever
The New Faces of Christianity
by Philip Jenkins
Singing and Making Music
by Paul S. Jones
by Eugene H. Merrill
What Jesus Demands of the World
by John Piper
A Taste of Heaven
by R.C. Sproul
Theology of the New Testament
by Frank Thielman
Recalling the Hope of Glory
by Allen P. Ross
by Jeffrey L. Sheler
The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching
edited by Haddon Robinson and Craig B. Larson
Tagged by Justice at 5/02/2007
He left instructions that he didn’t want anyone spending money on a casket, embalming fluid, or an elaborate funeral. He wanted to be cremated, the cheapest way possible to dispose of his earthly remains. No one asked my opinion on this, but I wept bitterly at the thought of this great man being reduced to ashes in the twinkling of an eye.
I could understand my grandfather’s request. He was a practical man who wanted to save money for his family. And the financial racket of cushioned caskets, catered “celebration services,” and steel-vaulted graves is a scandal, to be sure. What I couldn’t understand was how few of my fellow Christians joined in my horror at the thought of a Christian man’s cremation.
Of all the issues of controversy among Christians, I find few more incendiary than whether or not we should, well, incinerate the bodies of our loved ones. I find that Christians become agitated, defensive, and personally insulted more quickly on the question of cremation than on almost any other contemporary question. And I find this odd.
For full article click here and go to page 13.
Tagged by Justice at 5/02/2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I posted something on my personal myspace account not too long ago that I wanted to post on Truth Or Consequences.
I am concerned with people that think they are saved and going to heaven just because at one time they made a past decision for Jesus Christ. Many claim that because they said a prayer, signed a card, walked an aisle, was baptized as a child and on and on that salvation has occured in their life. One just never reads of anything of the sort in the Bible. The only prayer that was ever prayed in the Bible was one of belief in God and repentance from sin. Salvation is seen in the Word of God as a past, present and future event . One cannot cling onto just a past decision. Salvation, a gift from God, is very much acted out by a believer in the present, the right now, and the daily life. It cannot be overlooked that one day salvation will be fulfilled in heaven when God gives to His child a glorified body by God. God bless you and here is what I wrote last month.
More Than A Past Decision
I am concerned about those that think that they are saved because of a past decision for Christ, one just does not read in the Bible about a past decision for Christ saving a person.
So what am I saying? To many people today are determining their salvation on a past experience only and not looking to the importance of living for Christ in the present. In other words, many people are saying because I walked the aisle, was baptized and said a sinners prayer back in 1900 whatever or such and such age. Some say "I am saved today even if I am not living my life for Christ." This is not necessarily true! We need to understand that the act of salvation is a here and now and not only done in the past. The Bible points to the fact that you must be producing good fruit in your life right now to be a Christian. Prove that you are a Christian today and begin acting like one by putting sin far behind.
Many people think that they are saved and may not really be. Don't you be deceived into thinking you are saved and are really not. Let's be remind of Jesus's words in Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord , Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And then I will declare to them 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." What alarming words for one to hear, make sure of your salvation today so you don't have to hear those words one day when you die and meet the Lord.
Some so-called Christians choose to be whipped around by daily sin in their life. Friend, put it behind, lay it down, one cannot serve sin (flesh) and Christ. More then ever Christian couples are living together in sin, playing husband and wife. Christian men are subjecting themselves to looking at pornography on the internet or watching it on television, thus having an affair of the heart. I could go on and on about Christians living in sin, but will not. You and God know the area of your life you need to clean up. I hope you will agree with me that the issue of sin must be put aside.
Listen, I do not believe in sinless perfection, I sin everyday and you will too. But the closer one gets to God the less and less he/she will sin. A born-again Christian doesn't have to be whipped around by sin. Remember Christ died for all sins and what Christians are doing when they sin is doing something that Christ died for.
Friend, walking daily with the Lord is not easy. If you have believed in His name and have repented of your sins be rest assured that you are born-again Christian. Just don't base it on a past experience that you may have had at a camp, revival meeting, or church. You can call on the name of the Lord today and be saved from your sins, you can walk with Christ daily producing good fruit or works. You can prove that you are genuinly a Christian because of the way you live your daily life! You are either living your life for yourself or for Christ. Begin living it for Him this day and remember the present aspect of salvation. To Him be the glory!
Tagged by Expositor at 5/01/2007
Total Depravity (Total Inability)
Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as "totally depraved," they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality -- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would "accept" the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).
This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism.
The elect are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, though good works will never bridge the gulf between man and God that was formed in the Fall, good works are a result of God's saving grace. This is what Peter means when he admonishes the Christian reader to make his "calling" and "election" sure (2 Peter 1:10). Bearing the fruit of good works is an indication that God has sown seeds of grace in fertile soil.
Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)
Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, "for whose sins did Christ atone?" The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church -- the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name "Christian" (Ephesians 5:25).
This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Christ's death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. Believing that Jesus' death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ's act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!
The result of God's Irresistible Grace is the certain response by the elect to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him (John 6:37). Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them (John 6:44), and the very Spirit of God leads God's beloved to repentance (Romans 8:14). What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!
Perseverance of the Saints
Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God's hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will remain in God's stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the "last day" (John 6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ's promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect.
- Mark Dever
- C.J. Mahaney
- Al Mohler
- Ligon Duncan
- John Piper
- John MacArthur
- R.C. Sproul
- Thabiti Anyabwile
Tuesday April 15 - Thursday April 17, 2008 - So get your taxes done early.
Kentucky International Convention Center - Louisville, KY
I appreciate very much the weekly devotions from John Piper. He is a man that has taught us to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
How appropriate are his words from the book of Jude. The church should reflect the Lord Jesus Christ and it is not! In fact, the church is letting the world creep in and run it. Unsaved people are determing its direction and not God; huge problem! I pray that God's children and true pastors of the Word will wake up and realize that Satan desires full control of the church. We need to desire that the church be what God wants it to be and not what we think it should be. Praise God that He wins out in the long-run. One sees what God wants the church to be like in His precious Word. The book of Ephesians speaks greatly about this issue. It is His church and He is to be glorified in it.
I hope you enjoy reading John Piper's devotion for this week from the book of Jude.
Click here to read the devotion.
Tagged by Expositor at 5/01/2007
The Brown home soon included two children. It was happy, filled with prayer and godly conversation. Fugitive preachers were hidden and cared for there. But on May 1, 1685 John rose at dawn, singing Psalm 27, to find the house surrounded by soldiers. The family filed onto the lawn. The commander, Claverhouse, shouted to John, “Go to your prayers; you shall immediately die.” Kneeling, John prayed earnestly for his wife, pregnant again, and for his children. Then he rose, embraced Isabell, and said, “The day is come of which I told you when I first proposed to you.”
“Indeed, John. If it must be so, I can willingly part with you.”
“This is all I desire,” replied John. “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his children, then Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot. The soldiers hesitated. Snatching a pistol, Claverhouse placed it to John’s head and blew out his brains. “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” he snarled. Isabell, fixing Claverhouse in her gaze, told him she had never been so proud of him. Claverhouse mounted his horse and sped away, troops in tow. Isabell tied John’s head in a napkin and sat on the ground weeping with her children until friends arrived to comfort them.
Armies may surround me, but I won’t be afraid;
War may break out, but I will trust you.
I ask only one thing, Lord:
Let me live in your house every day of my life
To see how wonderful you are
And to pray in your temple.