Thursday, November 29, 2007

Video: Biblical Inerrancy Question- Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee

Watch three leading Republican candidates for President answer the question, “Do you believe everything in the Bible?”



HT: Said at Southern

Charlie Brown Christmas

Don't miss it with your kids this Christmas.

Al Mohler to Appear Friday on NBC News Story about Young Evangelicals

Mohler to appear Friday on NBC News story about young evangelicals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to appear Friday, November 30, in an NBC News story about how young evangelicals, particularly those in the Emerging Church movement, are impacting the church and politics. Mohler was interviewed in Louisville on Tuesday by NBC newsman Tom Brokaw. The story is scheduled to run during the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which airs nationally at 6:30 pm Eastern Time. The broadcast is subject to change without notice.

Signs of the Apocolypse: Are Mormon's my Christian Brothers?!?

Apparently contending for the faith has taken a back seat to the agenda of these two. Both of these men would do well to read the book of Jude and draw their clear differences for everyone to see. The price of getting along should never be at the comprise of the truth's that we hold dear. For evangelicals to come together with Mormon's is to put aside the distinctives that make us Christian. For me, that is unacceptable; Christ is the only bridge that can bring us together in spiritual unity.

Mormon / Evangelical talks hold key to Christian political unity

Robert Millet and Greg Johnson, authors of Bridging the Divide, set out to have a conversation that would mend wounds between two faith traditions with a history of deep enmity—the Mormons and the Evangelicals. They achieved their goal. An unintended consequence of their dialogues could result in a new voice of Christian unity that might have a profound political effect.

The back-story…Johnson, the Evangelical, was raised as a Mormon in Utah, had a personal encounter with Jesus in his mid teens and became Born Again. Millet is part of the intellectual aristocracy of the Mormon Church. Evangelicals do not recognize Mormons as Christians. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon supercedes the Bible.

“Debates between Mormons and Evangelicals have been a common thing and you can certainly draw a crowd when you have that kind of an event because people want to see the fists fly.” writes Greg Johnson. But what Johnson and Millet had in mind was not a debate, but a dialogue. And to accomplish that, they had a revolutionary idea: to stop trying to convert each other. Johnson and Millet wanted a conversation without the pretence of conquest and the pressure for either to concede to what each hold sacred about their faith.

What started as a private talk ten years ago became public when the authors opened their dialogues to others, taking questions from Evangelical and Mormon audiences. To date they have appeared in over 50 churches and universities attracting as many as 1,600 people at a single event. Many come expecting a Mormon and an Evangelical debating each other; what emerges is an impressive journey over a fragile bridge that has divided the two faiths.

The current political implications are significant in Bridging the Divide. “Without question, the shared values and morals that both Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints hold dear are under sustained attack from a hostile unregenerate world, and if we do not discover ways to come together, we will surely suffer together” concludes Johnson.

The Backlash Against Tithing - PART 2

Book and Author a Major Influence on WSJ Article, The Backlash Against Tithing

Click here for part 1.

On Friday, November 23, 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a written and online article, The Backlash Against Tithing, by Suzanne Sataline.

Georgia writer, Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D, the author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions About a Taboo Doctrine, was a major contributor of names and information for the article.

Kelly spent hundreds of hours pouring over old e-mails from the past six years to furnish names and information to the Wall Street Journal for this article. The following names and important data of key persons interviewed in the article were provided by him: Robert Barbour, Kirk Cesaretti, James Harnut-Beumler, Andreas Kostenberger, Kevin Rohr and Judy Willingham. At least three of these persons were influenced by his book.

The truth has been let out of the closet now. Praise God. Thank you Ms. Suzanne Sataline. As Kevin Rohr was quoted in the article, "All decisions to give and how much to give are between the believer and their God, not meant to be used as stumbling blocks or judgments against others." While many in prosperous countries should give more than 10%, the Christian is not under a percentage and should give for better reasons outlined to the Church.

Russell Earl Kelly, Author of Should the Church Teach Tithing?http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com/
russkellyphd@earthlink.net

Joyce Meyer Fights Back! You Decide!

While I am not a supporter in any way of Joyce Meyer, I thought it would be fair to put her unedited words here and let you decide what you think in regards to her finances. While I have my own opinions - I will let you form your own.

Joyce Meyer Ministries: Response to Senator Grassley Inquiry

ST. LOUIS (11/28/07) – On November 6, 2007, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, formally requested the leadership of Joyce Meyer Ministries to provide detailed records and personal information pertaining to Dave and Joyce Meyer for his review.

While the ministry is not under obligation by law to submit this information; in keeping with our own high standards of fiscal responsibility, our respect for the democratic process, and our established tradition of transparency with our ministry supporters, we are preparing the requested documents for presentation to the senator’s office—on time (by December 6, 2007) and in full detail.

Our timely response to the senator’s efforts to ensure the financial accountability of all non-profits is a decisive demonstration of the high standard of fiscal responsibility that we hold ourselves to, above and beyond legal obligation, out of our deep commitment to our ministry partners and friends. We are profoundly thankful for the many Americans who help make this far-reaching global ministry and its charitable outreaches possible.

Those familiar with Joyce Meyer, who watch her television program, read her books, or listen to her messages of hope and strength, recognize that on a personal level, she and her husband, Dave, are deeply committed to a high standard of stewardship both in their personal lives and in the daily operations of the ministry. Each year, independently audited financial reports are made available to the public upon completion as a demonstration of our commitment to fiscal responsibility. (Click here to view 2003-2006 financial reports.) Joyce Meyer Ministries embraces this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability.

As a further demonstration of this commitment to our ministry supporters and our high regard for transparency, the ministry is also pleased to release at this time a supplemental document illuminating facets of the ministry that the senator has requested for review, Answers to Common Questions (see below) as well as information not specifically requested by Senator Grassley’s office. This document addresses recent inquires the ministry has received from members of the media in a specific and straightforward manner.

Delanie Trusty, CFO of Joyce Meyer Ministries stated earlier today, “We are deeply respectful of the senator’s efforts and are confident that the information presented to his office will exceed the senator’s high standards of review and the truth will be revealed— that Joyce Meyer Ministries and the Meyers are in complete compliance with financial regulations and each take such matters very seriously.”

For specific information about how ministry funds are spent, please visit www.joycemeyer.org/whatwedo

Supplement: Answers to Common Questions

Regarding Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Guidelines and Compliance - Just four weeks prior to Senator Grassley’s inquiry, on October 10, 2007, Joyce Meyer Ministries received a letter from the Department of the Treasury (IRS) informing the ministry that it is in complete compliance with IRS regulations and guidelines that govern the organization. (Click here to view the IRS letter.) This conclusion was reached after Joyce Meyer Ministries’ leadership voluntarily participated in an in-depth IRS review of ministry operations, as well as personal information related to Dave and Joyce Meyer. As the current requested information is similar, Joyce Meyer Ministries is confident this detailed review by the IRS will serve as a tremendous resource of information for Senator Grassley’s inquiry.

Regarding Compensation of Dave and Joyce Meyer - Joyce Meyer Ministries takes extra steps to ensure trust and confidence in giving for the partners and friends of the ministry. Each year, a complete, independent financial audit of the ministry’s activities is provided and made public. Joyce Meyer’s personal compensation is a part of this audit and the information provided. (Click here to view 2003-2006 financial reports.) Joyce Meyer does not receive any royalties or any form of compensation as a result of ministry sales of audio and video tapes, books, CDs, DVDs or any other form of media. In addition, Joyce Meyer does not receive the honorariums personally given to her as a result of the numerous speaking engagements she accepts each year. She requests these honorariums be given directly to the ministry.

Joyce Meyer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author, and her books have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list multiple times. As a result, she is compensated by royalties produced from the sale of these books via bookstores worldwide and other retail and online outlets outside of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Because of the vast success of her books and other related materials that are produced independently of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Joyce Meyer is able to personally give generously back into the global media and mission outreaches of the organization. In the past four years, she has made donations to the ministry in amounts greater than she and her husband, Dave, have received in compensation from the ministry. (Click here to see letters of verification.) This is evidence of her commitment to excellence in ministry and proof that she would never ask the partners and friends of the ministry to do something that she is not willing and ready to do herself.

Regarding the Purchase of a $23,000 Commode - While many have mistakenly associated this piece of furniture with a common household toilet, this particular term actually refers to the classic definition of commode identified by Webster’s Dictionary as, “a tall elegant chest of drawers.” In 2001, when the ministry moved into its current 150,000-square-foot headquarters located in Fenton, Missouri, a significant amount of furniture was needed for the larger facility. This “commode” was one piece of a total of sixty-eight pieces purchased from a single supplier to finish out the interior of the offices. A total of $261,498.21 was paid for these sixty-eight (the majority were significant in size) pieces of furniture. The $23,000 purchase price of this chest of drawers was actually an errant value assigned by the selling agent after the transaction was complete for the entire sixty-eight piece lot. Joyce Meyer Ministries humbly regrets not paying closer attention to specific “assigned values” placed on those pieces that have now led to gross misrepresentations. Joyce Meyer Ministries takes financial stewardship and accountability very seriously, and this oversight serves as an opportunity to only improve future practices.

Regarding the Stewardship of Ministry Funds for Ministry Purposes - In 2006, 82 percent of all ministry funds received were used for outreach and program services directed at reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the physical needs of the less fortunate all over the world. The ministry used 13 percent for administrative purposes, and just 5 percent was used for fund-raising activities. For 2007, the ministry is on track to maintain this level of stewardship and, because of the generosity of its partners and friends, will be increasing its global missions budget to more than $28 million. These specific mission endeavors to people of developing nations and the USA include feeding the poor, providing clothing for children and families, prisoner outreaches, drilling freshwater wells, ministering to the elderly, building new homes for the homeless, and caring for widows and orphans. (Click here to view reports of these mission endeavors.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence

The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders. We are exiles. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

But we are very happy sojourners, because we have been commanded by our bloody Champion to rejoice in exile miseries. “Blessed are you when others . . . persecute you . . . on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). We are happy because the apostle Paul showed us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). We are happy because there are merciful foretastes everywhere in this fallen world, and God is glad for us to enjoy them (1 Timothy 4:3; 6:17). And we are happy because we know that the exiles will one day inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Christ died for sinners so that “all things” might one day belong to his people (Romans 8:32).

For full article click here.

What Would Jesus Buy?

"The Shopocalypse is coming! Who will be $aved? Let me exorcise your credit cards! Changellujuah!"

So go the pithy exhortations of "Reverend Billy"—the charismatic, feather-ruffling rebel at the center of the new documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? The film, which opens in limited release this Friday, takes a unique look at the epidemic of over-consumption in America, most egregiously evident during the Christmas shopping season—which begins in earnest next week. Reverend Billy and his "Church of Stop Shopping" are on a mission to apply the WWJD ethos to our shopping habits—forcing audiences to consider the implications (for themselves and for the world) of what they consume.

Lest the name confuse you, it should be made clear: Reverend Billy is not an ordained minister and doesn't even call himself a Christian. The preacher persona is simply a stage name for Bill Talen, an actor-turned-activist from New York City (via San Francisco). Talen grew up Dutch Calvinist in Minnesota but left the faith as a teenager. He adopted the "Reverend" title in 1997 as a way to creatively protest America's increasingly excessive consumerism and corporate homogeneity (with Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Disney being his version of the "axis of evil"). What began as his solitary street "preaching" in Times Square (the "Stonehenge of billboards") soon became a "ministry" of sorts—the Church of Stop Shopping.

Click here for full story.

Parental Responsibility or Spying?

CheckMyPC is a new program for Windows PCs that helps parents quickly identify content on their computer that is inappropriate for children. Children and teens face a growing number of risks on-line: exposure to inappropriate content (e.g. sites related to pornography, drugs, violence), on-line solicitation from predators and criminals, e-commerce scams and harassment. CheckMyPC performs thousands of checks to help parents immediately recognize signs of risky on-line behavior.

To learn more go here.

Today in freaky start-ups: RentYourSoul.com

From News.com

Pierre Ayotte, noted in his press release as a "friendly upcoming Internet opportunist"--i.e. not The Devil Himself, just to be clear--would like to rent your soul for ten bucks a week.

It's a new twist on an old non-profit business model. He's gambling on the chance that the soul-leasing business will earn enough money to stay afloat from the charities who pay weekly to advertise on his site, RentYourSoul.com.

Ayotte swears he's not working for Beelzebub. He'll pay you $10 and also donate $10 to the charity of your choice, selected from the nonprofits posting to RentYourSoul.

If you've ever been tempted to trade your soul for fame, fortune, or other significant gains, you're in good company: Homer and Bart Simpson, Dr. Faustus, Charlie Daniels' violin-wielding "Johnny," and any number of Blues players have risked perdition with the Prince of Darkness. One News.com staffer claims to have sold her soul in exchange for her almost supernatural Guitar Hero skillz.

Instead of skirting the fiery pit of eternal damnation, why not simply lease your soul for a good cause? It only takes a few minutes to post a photo of yourself, and if he posts your photo on the home page, you're soul-free for a week and ten dollars richer afterward. No, you can't have hordes of dancing girls and wealth beyond your wildest dreams in exchange. But you can have the satisfaction of a deed well done for the good of others.

What's the risk? It's an asset almost all of us possess, and chances are, you're not using yours anyway.

HT: Emily Shurr

Signs of the Apocolypse: Moreno Valley

Local church leaders will have to wait until next month to find out the fate of a proposed law that would prohibit the establishment of churches in industrial areas or in residential neighborhoods not on major streets.

The Moreno Valley City Council decided Tuesday to postpone final approval of the proposed law until Dec. 11, so that it can discuss the issues further with a council of pastors.
"When it comes back, we'll have a final recommendation," Councilman Bill Batey said. "We'll have direct input from the clergy and ministers in the city."

For full article click here.

The Backlash Against Tithing

Can you put a price on faith? That is the question churchgoers are asking as the tradition of tithing -- giving 10% of your income to the church -- is increasingly challenged. Opponents of tithing say it is a misreading of the Bible, a practice created by man, not God. They say they should be free to donate whatever amount they choose, and they are arguing with pastors, writing letters and quitting congregations in protest. In response, some pastors have changed their teaching and rejected what has been a favored form of fund raising for decades.

For full article click here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The New Media is an Opportunity for the Gospel Mohler Tells Christian Blogger Conference

The current generation of young people in America is information-saturated and technologically savvy, but is also largely unevangelized, presenting Christians with a stewardship to proclaim the Gospel through new media such as the blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told attendees of Godblogcon 2007 last week in Las Vegas.

Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the explosion of the Internet blogs has revolutionized communications in the past decade and has birthed a unique opportunity for the spread of the Gospel. Mohler served as the keynote speaker for the third annual Christian blogger conference.

He writes a blog at www.albertmohler.com.

Read complete story.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Free Sex Kits Replace Free Bibles

Hotels replace Gideon Bibles with "sex kits"

The latest fad with some hotels is to replace their Bibles with "intimancy kits." For instance, at New York City's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy a gourmet mini-bar, an iPod, a flat-screen TV and even the company of a complimentary pet goldfish. But no Bible.

Parent company Accor Hotels decided to replace the Gideon Bibles with "intimacy kits." For Accor, providing travelers with sexual paraphernalia is more important than the Bible. Accor Hotels owns several chains including: Motel 6, Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, All Seasons, Etap, Formule 1. While these chains are mostly located in Europe, Accor is expanding to many U.S. markets.

Since 2001, the number of luxury hotels with Bibles in the rooms has dropped by 18 percent. The same companies that own these luxury hotels also own some of the typical hotels and motels you and I might use. For example, Accor Hotels owns Motel 6.

The Ten How To's of Expository Preaching

Steve Lawson wrote an article for the Southern Seminary magazine a few years ago about expository preaching. He is one of the "Greats" when it comes to this type of preaching. I hope you enjoy and are educated by his wonderful article.

The Ten How-to’s of Expository Preaching
by Steven J. Lawson


Expositors are not born, they are made. Gifted by the Spirit of God, yes. But such men are, nevertheless, forged in the fire of hard study, hammered on the anvil of rigorous practice and polished over time. Whether you have been preaching for only a short time or a lifetime, whether you preach in a country church or a mega-church, every preacher must be ever refining his pulpit skills in order to powerfully deliver the Word of God.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great preacher of London’s Westminster Chapel, emphatically stated, “The work of preaching is the highest, the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” I applaud that statement, not because there is anything special about those of us who preach, but because there is everything special about Him who has called us to proclaim His Word.

Because the Bible is what it claims to be—the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God—preaching is the highest calling known to man. As heralds of the sacred Scriptures, we have been entrusted with the greatest privilege of all—that of being mouthpieces through which the living God has chosen to speak. To us has been committed the greatest privilege of offering the unsearchable riches of Christ to those who are spiritually bankrupt and dispensing the treasures of His wisdom and understanding to those desperately in need of His grace.

As a result, we must be firmly committed to handling His Word with excellence. Anything less would be unfitting for the high calling upon our lives to preach. With this in mind, I want to share with you the essential steps of expository preaching that I use each week to communicate the Word of God to my congregation.

STEP #1: PREPARATION
Be the Right Person. Before the preachers can prepare the sermon, God must first prepare the preacher. If our hearts are not right, then our sermons can never be right. As a result, we must always be passionate in our personal pursuit of God. Never study a passage simply to prepare a sermon. We must always study to prepare our own hearts first and foremost. I cannot take others spiritually where I have not already gone. As a preacher, I cannot share what I do not possess.

Robert Murray McCheyne, the noted Scottish preacher, said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” In other words, I must first of all, be a man of God. What I say must be the overflow of who I am. My preaching must occur within the context of a dynamic relationship with God.

Choose the Right Passage. Now, we must decide which passage of Scripture to preach. In order to make this choice, we must exegete our audience, interpret their spiritual needs and determine the most appropriate series that will produce the desired result. Generally, I preach through entire books in the Bible to insure that I cover “the full counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). I also will preach a shorter series through one chapter in the Bible (i.e. Joseph, Genesis 37:50), or a biblical topic (i.e. spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13). I must emphasize, prayer is always a must in being led by God to make the proper choice.

STEP #2: OBSERVATION
After a decision has been made regarding what to preach, the expositor must look for the central idea of the text, the “big idea,” or the main point of the passage. We should ask ourselves, what is the core truth the biblical author is trying to communicate? We want to become keenly aware of the passage, reading the text over and over and over with an observant eye. We are to be like a detective poking for clues or a prospector panning for gold. Personally, I prefer to photocopy the passage out of my Bible, marking it up thoroughly as I read it until I have it almost memorized. I want the central idea clearly in mind allowing it to dominate my thinking.

As I investigate the verses, I always ask myself several key diagnostic questions: Who is speaking? Who is the original audience? What is he saying? Why is this recorded? When was this written? What are the circumstances behind this passage? What immediately preceded this passage? What follows? How does this passage fit into the overall theme of the book?

In the process of reading the passage and its expanded context, I look for a unit of thought—a paragraph—that will be my specific text. At this point, I attempt to determine whether I will preach, for example, one, three, five or eight verses. In other words, I will determine how many verses my sermon will cover, after which I summarize in a complete sentence the main idea of the passage.

As I continue to pour over the passage, I look for transitions in the flow of thought, breaks in the action, main verbs, cause and effects, key words and reoccurring themes. At this point, I write a working outline of the passage so I can visually see its general structure and subordinate truths.

STEP #3: INTERPRETATION
Next, the expositor must interpret the passage using the literal, historical, grammatical approach. By literal, I mean the normal, or natural, meaning of words, being careful never to allegorize or spiritualize the text. By historical, I mean the author’s intent as he wrote to his original audience. By grammatical, I mean the understanding of the grammar, syntax and word studies in the passage. In this process we build a bridge between the ancient world of the Bible and our contemporary culture. In preparing my sermons, I take an 8-1/2 by 11 inch pad of paper and record extensive notes using the following tools:

Use Language Tools. Because the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, reading the passage in the ancient languages will yield a greater understanding of the text. Key word studies, verb tenses and grammatical syntax will be paramount. A Greek and Hebrew dictionary will more clearly reveal a word’s meaning, and a lexicon will trace its use in various contexts. Just remember, in a sermon, Greek and Hebrew are like underwear: they add a lot of support, but you don’t want to let them show.

Consult Commentaries. After doing my own in-depth study, I read five to fifteen commentaries and expose myself to the findings of men more gifted than I who have wrestled with this particular passage. I compare my findings with other noted teachers and respected theologians in the body of Christ from church history and the present day. Likewise, I read other expository sermons and listen to tapes of other preachers expounding on the same text. Obviously, an expositor’s library is an indispensable asset.

Check Cross References. We must always interpret Scripture with Scripture. The Word never contradicts itself. One part of the Bible never teaches anything contrary to another part. Therefore, we must turn to cross references to insure accuracy of interpretation.

Investigate Biblical Background Resources. The historicity of a passage often illuminates its meaning. Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries contain helpful articles on matters of historical significance. The culture of the ancient world was vastly different from today’s society. Thus, we must understand the milieu of Bible times, whether it be the Jewish, Greek or Roman culture, to grasp the meaning of the passage. Also, understanding the geography of the Middle East can be helpful in unlocking the meaning of a passage. Along this line, a Bible atlas is often an extremely helpful tool in understanding a text.

STEP #4: ASSIMILATION
Now, we want to take our individual discoveries and collected observations and begin to organize them into a written manuscript that follows a verse by verse progression through the selected passage. Our sermon notes should fall into a sequential pattern that follows a logical train of thought. To accomplish that I:

Construct a Preaching Outline. My initial outline now becomes a more polished outline that will help listeners follow me through the passage. A good outline is like the skeleton of the human body—that upon which the flesh and meat of the sermon are hung. A good outline may illiterate, rhyme or parallel in some way the other points so as to aid the listener. A good rule of thumb is: the shorter the wording of the homiletical point the better.

Incorporate the Research. I now arrange my exegetical findings in a systematic order that lines up under the appropriate point in my homiletical outline. For those who use a computer, this is a simply process of moving around copy. I still write my research by hand and use a photo copier to strip in my exegesis. I restate my findings in words that are more colloquial or more easily understood. Sometimes, communicating through analogies, metaphors and similes is very helpful to convey the truth.

Add Transitions. I now sew together the various parts of the sermon with the silky threads of smooth transitions as I connect one point with another. These transitions should show logical connections and contain summary statements which serve as the glue that binds the exposition together. Likewise, a good transition can also create interest for the next point by asking thought provoking questions.

STEP #5: APPLICATION
Sermon preparation is never complete until the text is applied to the individual lives of my hearers. I always must ask myself, does this truth relate to their lives? What does God require of them?

In my seminary classes, Haddon Robinson encouraged us to picture five or six members of our congregation seated around the table in our pastor’s study. Each of these people should represent a cross section of those to who we preach. Ask yourself, what does this text have to say to a successful businessman? A single parent? A college student? A retired grandparent? A young couple contemplating a move? How does this Scripture impact their lives?

At this point, I even manuscript my application to force myself to be accurate and relevant. I don’t want to “wind” the application any more than I want to be3 unprepared with the interpretation. This requires being “in touch” with the people to whom I preach, knowing their struggles, temptations and influences they face. Likewise, reading books, magazines and newspapers will reveal the current trends and tensions of the world in which they live.

I believe the best place to position application is to sprinkle it throughout the message. Each major movement of the sermon should drip with relevancy. If I regularly save all my application for the end of the sermon, my listeners could learn to tune me out while I am teaching the “meat” of the passage and tune back in for the conclusion and the perceived applicable truth. Consequently, I choose to weave “action points” throughout the entirety of my sermon.

STEP #6: ILLUSTRATIONS
Sermon illustrations are like open windows which allow outside light to be shed upon the passage enlightening its meaning. A good illustration can create interest, capture attention, explain a truth, motivate powerfully or insure that the message is unforgettable.

I prefer biblical illustrations—in other words, Scripture illustrating Scripture—because they carry greater authority to reinforce the point. Also, by illustrating from other biblical texts, I can teach Scripture as I illustrate and introduce my congregation to other biblical passages. At the same time, all knowledge—whether it be history, medicine, sports, culture or current events—is available to the preacher as a potential resource with which to illustrate. Likewise, appropriate personal experiences can help connect with and endear us to our audience as we illustrate the passage.

A good illustration will be relevant and memorable. Just make sure it doesn’t overshadow the biblical point you’re making. In other words, an illustration must support the truth but never take the place of, nor compete with, the truth in the minds of the hearers.

STEP #7: INTRODUCTION
Now that the main body of the message has been constructed, we are ready to write the introduction. Think of the introduction as the porch of a house. Proportionally, a porch is smaller than the house itself, yet it serves to provide easy access for all guests to enter the main structure. How strange a house would look if the front porch were too large, or worse, it if were larger than the house itself. Too large a porch would draw too much attention to itself. Rather, it should compliment the beauty of the house. In the same way, the introduction should be large enough to orient the listener to the sermon but small enough not to distract from the main body of the message.

This may be done through various means such as the use of illustration, humor, current events, a striking quote, asking questions, relating a personal experience, describing a hypothetical situation, raising a life-related problem, or any number of other means. Never forget: recruiting eager listeners for the sermon is the goal.

I agree with the oft-repeated three “I’s” of a good introduction: interest, involvement and identification. Ideally, the introduction should create interest, engage involvement or cause the listener to identify personally with the speaker of the subject matter. After the introduction, the preacher ought to be able to sit down and the congregation want him to get back up and finish the rest of the sermon.
STEP #8: CONCLUSION
Last words ought to be lasting words. The conclusion serves as a final “fork-in-the-road” calling the listener to pursue one of two courses of action based upon the truth proclaimed. Either the hearer will follow the biblical path just laid out or he will reject it. The conclusion should answer the question, “As a result of this message, what does God want the listener to do?” An effective conclusion should either, summarize the main truths, specify application, motivate, confront, challenge the will, encourage or comfort.

I like to think of the conclusion as a pilot landing an airplane. Here is the successful “touch down” of the sermon upon the runway of the listener’s heart. Every sermon must conclude with a clear and motivating call to action.

STEP #9: INTERNALIZATION
At this point, the manuscript should be complete. The introduction, main body and conclusion have been written. We now want to review our sermon notes to evaluate the general flow of the message as a whole.

Ask yourself: Is the sermon material under each homiletic point equally distributed? Is the introduction too long or too short? Are there enough illustrations? Is application well distributed? Will the opening lines “hook” the listener? Is there balance and symmetry before the main points? Is a section top heavy and need to be redistributed? Do I have too many points? Do the transitions flow?

After the sermon manuscript is on paper, it must also be indelibly written upon my mind and heart. Of course, this internalization has occurred throughout the entire process of developing the sermon. What I have studied and written must be fully rooted and grounded into my own life. I must become one with my sermon—married if you will. Regarding the truth of the message, I must know it, feel it and live it if I am to deliver it effectively.

My entire being—mind, emotion and will—must be engaged with my sermon. With my mind, I must become intimately acquainted with my manuscript, refreshing my memory with the substance of its truth. With my emotions, I must feel deeply the truth to be preached. And with my will, I must personally obey the message before I can ask others to act upon it.

In the final analysis, the best method of internalizing one’s sermon notes is to pray through them, offering each specific truth to God for his approval and preaching the message, as it were, to myself asking God to make it real in my own life.

STEP #10: PROCLAMATION
The anticipated moment of delivering the sermon has now come as the expositor stands before the congregation in the presence of God. Every preacher will develop his own method of delivery whether he reads his notes, recites them word-for-word from memory, uses them as a launching pad in a more “free form” communication or preaches without notes after thoroughly reviewing them.

Personally, I believe the last two methods are the best options. I bring my notes into the pulpit and use them in an extemporaneous fashion, trusting that God will enable me to “go beyond” my notes during the sermon. This allows the Holy Spirit to use all my preparation to the maximum, yet with freedom and liberty as He guides me spontaneously through the sermon and its outline.

As the Spirit of God fills and controls me, my facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact and voice inflection will communicate naturally—actually, supernaturally. These external aspects of sermon delivery should be the dynamic result of God working through my own personality and temperament, not something theatrically rehearsed nor intentionally imitated from another preacher. We want to avoid what on preacher wrote in the margin of his notes, “Weak point: yell here!” The goal is to be genuine.

How long should the sermon last? By and large, an expository sermon will take longer than a topical message because more attention will be given to the specifics of the text, i.e., historical background, word studies, cross references, flow of thought and the like. Rarely can a preacher do all this in 25 to 30 minutes and, at the same time, illustrate and apply the truth. I believe this requires a bare minimum of 35 minutes, otherwise theological fiber and doctrinal clarity will be sacrificed leaving the congregation deprived of the meat of the Word. In my pulpit, I shoot for 40 minutes.

Following each of these ten essential steps of expository preaching requires supernatural energy and divine enlightenment. Thus, we must be ever mindful that it is ultimately the Spirit of God who grips and equips the preacher.

May we hear again the stirring words of the greatest Baptist preacher who ever lived, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who said,

We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark ears, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.

I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to heart it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His Churches.

May God raise up in this day a generation of expositors who are committed to proclaiming His truth to this world. If God has called you to be His servant, why stoop to be a king?

Preach the Word!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Plant that Church Brother! It is Needed

Excerpt From John Piper on Church Planting

video

John Piper's Observations on Church Planting

1. There are 195 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the top four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.

2. In spite of the rise of mega-churches, no county in America has a greater church population than it did ten years ago.

3. During the last ten years, combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242), while the national population increased by 11.4 percent (24,153,000) .

4. Each year 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors forever; yet only as many as 1,500 new churches are started.

5. There are now nearly 60 percent fewer churches per 10,000 persons than in 1920.
In 1920 27 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
In 1950 17 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
In 1996 11 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.

6. “Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.”

7. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.

8. Hence the claim of many leaders: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (Peter Wagner).

Click here to read more.

Spurgeon on Election

Spurgeon writes...


"My dear friends, after all, the kicking against the doctrine of election is a kicking against the gospel, because this doctrine is a first principle in the divine plan of mercy, and when rightly known, it prepares our minds to receive all the other doctrines. Or on the contrary, misunderstand this, and you are pretty sure to make mistakes about all the rest... Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, lifted up; for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of his eternal favor to us; but it is not faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Calvinism is a Fad that Should NOT be Debated or Taken Seriously

This letter below is exactly why the Building Bridges conference is so important. I am amazed at the intensity of the ignorance that must have been involved in writing that letter. And my statement that I just made is the perfect example of why the conference is needed - because what I wrote is what I feel. And hopefully this conference will put an end to those that incite this type of anger in Calvinists - and those like me that are willing to fire back.

Click here to see it in a more readable format.





HT: Founders / Tom Ascol

Book Review: Covenant and Salvation:Union with Christ


Staff Review: Covenant and Salvation: Union with Christ


Covenant and SalvationAuthor: Michael Horton

Publisher: Presbyterian

ISBN: 9780664231637

Paperback, 324 pages


As the third volume of Horton’s series on covenant theology, this volume is perhaps of special interest because it is most clearly focused on issues surrounding soteriology – issues such as law and gospel, imputation, justification, union with Christ, ordo solutis, etc. Consistent with the rest of the series, Horton seeks to develop the implications of a classic Reformed understanding of covenant with reference to these issues and in conversation with various modern streams of thought. I found this format engaging and educational, and appreciated many of his insights, especially in regard to imputation, law and gospel, and glorification. However, I thought his presentation of union with Christ and justification could have been nuanced further so as to do justice to its use in Calvin and Reformed theology.


Horton’s thesis in this regard is that “justification is exclusively juridical, yet it is the forensic origin of our union with Christ, from which all of our covenantal blessings flow.” (139) What is perplexing in this is not the forensic nature of justification but his insistence that justification is the ground of union with Christ rather than union with Christ being the ground of both the forensic and renovative benefits of salvation. The motivation for this insistence is laudable – to keep justification from being grounded in any way in ontological or moral changes in us. Horton seems to identify the concept of “union with Christ” solely with these renovative, progressive aspects of our salvation, and thus denies that it can be logically prior to forensic justification.


That way of speaking of “union with Christ” is surely current in some circles both now and in the past. But it does not seem necessary or accurate to understand the Reformed use of “union with Christ” in solely renovative terms. In fact, I would suggest, to do so is to miss the particular genius of Calvin’s logic concerning the distinction and inseparability of the forensic and renovative benefits of salvation. Calvin, typically, in answering the charge that a purely forensic justification would make the real renovation of life unnecessary, explained the necessity of both because of their inseparability in the person of Christ, to whom we are united by faith. The logic is this: Do you have justification? It is only because you are united to Christ by faith — and if you are united to Christ, you have sanctification too, for both are in Christ and Christ can not be torn apart. Some of the quotes Horton cites are themselves clear statements of this line of thought. For instance, he quotes Calvin:


Although we may distinguish them [justification and sanctification], Christ contains both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces [1 Cor. 1:13]. Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness. (Insitutes, 3.16.1)


Horton’s conclusion on the basis of this quote is, “Calvin recognizes here that justification need not be confused with sanctification by means of an all-encompassing ontology of union in order to recognize the inseparability of both legal (forensic) and organic (effective) aspects of that union” (emphasis his). Now, it may be true that Calvin would object to an ontological concept of union with Christ, but the problem would not be that it is “all-encompassing” of “legal” and “organic” aspects of salvation. In fact, the very key to his logic here is the logical subordinance of both justification and sanctification to union with Christ. Read more…

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dressing Down the Pulpit - Culture vs Cool

This is an excellent must read article from Pastor Mike Mckinney at 9Marks. It is as funny as it is true and relevant, and I don't mean relevant in a cool kind of mirroring the culture way.

Show me a grown man with a goatee and I’ll show you a major league baseball player. Show me a grown man with a goatee wearing sandals and I’ll show you a youth pastor.

When I was a kid, I remember that the youth pastor at our church was totally different than any other pastor I’d ever seen. He quoted rock bands and wore blue jeans to church. He was cool in a way that the other adults in my life were not. I was proud to invite my friends to church and see their negative stereotypes of Christians get blown up. The youth group thrived and "unchurched" kids were reached. The one thing that distinguished our group from others was that our pastor was cool.

As the youth pastors and youth of the 1990s become the head pastors and congregants of the 2000s, it seems like the phenomenon has only grown. It is now an unexamined assumption in many quarters: the best way to reach people is to be like them. In order to reach our culture, we must embody what the culture defines as acceptable and valuable. We must be as "cool" as we can possibly be while still retaining the gospel. That way, people will see us and not be turned off by us. Maybe they’ll even want to be us.

For full article click here.

Signs of the Apocolypse: Willow Creek

Willow Creek Repents?

Why the most influential church in America now says "We made a mistake."
Few would disagree that Willow Creek Community Church has been one of the most influential churches in America over the last thirty years. Willow, through its association, has promoted a vision of church that is big, programmatic, and comprehensive. This vision has been heavily influenced by the methods of secular business. James Twitchell, in his new book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels’ office hangs a poster that says: “What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?” Directly or indirectly, this philosophy of ministry—church should be a big box with programs for people at every level of spiritual maturity to consume and engage—has impacted every evangelical church in the country.


So what happens when leaders of Willow Creek stand up and say, “We made a mistake”?


Signs of the Apocolypse: Hagee Hersey Full Live and in Color

Pastor John Hagee is now boldly & openly proclaiming that Jesus Christ was not the Messiah (the Christ)! Since Hagee is deeply involved with the current Illuminist leadership of Israel, this is mostly likely one of the final moves to deceive his followers (& whoever else will listen) into supporting the coming false messiah (Antichrist).

In order to establish a solid foundation for this teaching the first part will be devoted to proving that modern day Israel is being totally controlled by Cabalistic Illuminists. An accurate description of these devils would be Revelation 3:9: 'I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie.' The second part of this teaching will be devoted to refuting Hagee's new book (In Defense of Israel), in which he relentlessly twists Scripture in order to deceive his readers.

The net effect is a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some exact quotes from this book read: 'Jesus refused to produce a sign ? because it was not the Father's will, nor his, to be Messiah'. (p 138) 'The Jews were not rejecting Jesus as Messiah; it was Jesus who was refusing to be the Messiah to the Jews.' (p. 140) 'They wanted him to be their Messiah, but he flatly refused.' (p. 141) 'Jesus rejected to the last detail the role of Messiah in word or deed.' (p. 145) Hagee's own writings condemn him, especially in light of: 1 John 2:22: Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist...' - Quoted from Dr. Scott Johnson

Click here to hear a sermon from Dr. Scott Johnson detailing Hagees Heresy. You may also watch the video below.

I am Offended by Family Christian Book Stores

I couldn't beleive the subject line of the email Family Christian recently sent me. The reason being, was the content of the email. The subject line said "Strengthen your life in Christ with these great books". I then opened the email to be throughly disgusted by their choices.


See Below:


If you really want to stregthen your walk and your life in Christ go here:
http://www.monergismbooks.com/
http://www.wtsbooks.com/


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Back To School

This is the first paper I turned in at California Baptist University

EVOLUTION VS. CREATION

You don’t have to disengage your mind to believe that this world is here by God’s divine act of creation. Christians do not have to hide from science believing that they need to exercise some blind faith in something that makes no sense in the physical world. In fact now the Christian point of view is the one that has science on its side. To not understand this is to show that you do not understand what real faith means. We will see that it is now the evolutionary scientists who no longer have a “leg to stand on” so to speak.

To illustrate this, think about your cell phone. It probably has a case and some kind of screen. It also has buttons that you use to control it. What if I were to tell you that all of the individual parts of your phone were made, put into a bag, that bag was shaken and after a certain amount of time those parts came together and become a phone. Would you believe me? Evolutionists would have you believe something far more outrageous than that.


Today I want to engage your minds. I don’t want to talk about the emotional side of the argument, just separate the fact from the fiction and only look at what is true. As we look at these things we will see that the intellectuals are no longer the ones that have science on their side.

During the time that Darwin first expounded his theories; the facts of science were very limited. At this time, it appeared that one celled organisms seemed to spontaneously grow and cells appeared to be nothing more than blobs of gelatin. We did not even fully understand how the eye worked. We would say these things are black boxes, meaning that as Darwin looked at these things he did not understand how they worked. He accepted that the eye worked but at that time they had no idea how. That is what we mean by black box. As science discovered how these things worked, like the cell or the eyes, we see that it is not reasonable for us to even think that these things happened by random chance. In fact we will see that the more we learn, the more organized and deliberate this world really is.

Today I will demonstrate that the facts show us that creation is the only possible explanation.

DEALING WITH THE TWO TITLES: Creationist vs. Evolutionist

As we look at the two sides to this there are two major lies that most people believe.

The first is that evolutionists don’t believe in creation.

This is a false belief. Even the evolutionist believes that there is a start therefore he does believe that this universe is created. What is in question is the source of creation and the motivating factor behind it. Physics even has a law for this. It is the law of cause and effect. Something can only be created by something equal to or greater than itself. The prevalent theory on the beginning of the universe by evolutionists is the big bang theory. The big bang theory states that there was a large expanse from nothing to the universe. That set the stage for the beginning of life on earth. The start of life is based on the theory that a bolt of lightning hit the ocean or that cosmic dust came together in random form and the first living cell was created by random chance. Random chance is then the driving force behind creation for the evolutionist. Therefore, evolutionists believe that creation was by some random chance.

Conversely, lie number two is that creationists don’t believe in evolution.

But evolution is a fact. What needs to be clarified is that there are two types of evolution. The most common understanding of evolution is that life came from random chance, as evolutionists believe and as we said above that life started by some random chance. This also leads us to the theory that one species evolved into another. This is the theory of evolution between species. Christians do not believe this to be true.

The less common known type of evolution which is supported by facts is linear or micro evolution. This is an evolution in which slight variations are seen in a species and stay within that species. There are no transitions from one species to another. There are changes within the population of any species but to what avail. It begs the question


“Is that change for better or worse?”

BIOLOGY AND THE BEGINNING

Examples of irreducible complexity support creation. What that means is that within the biological world we can observe many different types of systems that are designed to support life. These are a big part of Darwin’s black boxes. We will look at a couple of different systems and we have to realize that Darwin did not at that time have any understanding of how they worked.

The flagellum of the bacteria could not exist without all of the individual components. It has a stator, a rotor and is controlled by electrical impulses. It is a tiny electrical motor. Every one of these parts needs to be in place for the flagellum to work. As we have learned in this class all the parts of bacteria need to be in place all at once for that cell to live. There is no way that bacteria could live or the flagellum work without all of those processes in place and functional.

Other biological systems support this also. Photosynthesis in a cell could not take place until all of the components are present. Cellular mitosis could not take place unless all of the organelles are present and functioning properly. The deeper we go, the more systems that we see and how they work, the more we see that if we remove one small component the only thing that we have is a dead, non-functioning cell. From this standpoint, creation is the only possible answer.


Embryology also shows us that creation is the only answer. The evolutionist uses this to try to further his case but to no avail. Recapitulation is a theory that has been set forth to try and promote the evolutionary process. This is one of Darwin’s black boxes. Today we know that every step that a human embryo goes through is human with a human intent. This could only be true if there was intent in creation and intent in creation means that there had to be a creator.


PHYSICS FROM THE BEGINNING

Evolution goes against the laws established by physics.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed by ordinary processes. Energy can, however, change form-for example, from chemical energy to the energy of heat and movement. The second law of thermodynamics states that when energy is converted from one form to another, the amount of useful energy decreases. What we see here is that energy cannot be created or destroyed but it can be consumed. This shows us that the planet is dying off, first, from a loss energy and second, that everything that is created progresses from a state of order to disorder. This is known as entropy. Anything that is left to itself is decaying and dying. Everything is progressing from order to disorder. If everything progresses from order to disorder, according to the first two laws of thermodynamics, then the evolutionary process which states that living cells went from order to a higher order is impossible. There is no possibility for the evolutionary process to take place in this system. We would have to say that the laws of physics that we know today could not be in place for creation to take place.

The law of cause and effect says if anything is created, it is created by something equal to or greater than itself. This being true we would have to say that a one- celled animal could not create a human. This is impossible and again creation is the best alternative.

CONCLUSION

There is no biological system in place at this time that could survive without all of its components being present. The more we look into that the more we see the complexity of living cells and organisms. The only logical conclusion that we can come to is that biologically evolution is not a viable solution.

The first two laws of thermodynamics and the law of cause and effect are completely ignored when using the evolutionary theory. Before using that theory we would then have to change those laws of physics. This would be impossible because those laws define the world that we live in and are valid in every application. We would therefore have to conclude that evolution is once again not a viable theory according to physics.

If these things are so obvious than why do people insist upon the evolutionary theory actually being a fact? The evolution and creation debate draws lines between Christians and non-Christians most of the time. This should as Christians, give us great concern about the motives behind evolutionists and their theory. It is easy to see when you step back and look at it that the evolutionary theory is an attack on the very foundation of the Bible. It is an attempt to virtually kill God or disprove His existence. Men throughout the span of time have always tried to get out from under the authority of God. As Christians let’s make no mistake and defend the biblical truth that God created the heavens and the earth and it took six days, six consecutive twenty-four hour periods. Since we see this debate between Christians and non-Christians we need to understand the fundamental problem. That problem has nothing to do with people believing in evolution, the problem is they are lost without God. Our main focus should be to lead them to Christ and change their entire life.