Thursday, May 19, 2016

'Daddy tried' a book review and recommendation

"Daddy Tried" a review.

Well, it's been awhile since I have blogged, and the last real book review that I felt compelled to give was on "What He Must Be....If He Wants To Marry My Daughter" by Voddie Baucham, which I found to be a rare book full of desperately needed truth, and now it's 'Daddy Tried' by Pastor Tim Bayly.
I personally favor old books, not so I can accomplish some reading list or talk about books among nerdy Reformed guys, but those old books where they got to the point quickly, where it was full of pointed truth, in other words, 'preachy'. They had the audacity to declare the Word of the Lord and to call men to follow it, without apology, rather then the typical interesting 'i-just-wanted-to-pump-out-another-book' fluff we get today. That's not to say godly men aren't writing books, but it's really, really, really, rare to find a book where you can't find an older one (from a Puritan, a Reformer, a Spurgeon, a Ryle, a Edwards etc) that would have been way more helpful.
This book is one of those books, a book needed for today, a 'preachy' book addressing a real lack, and providing biblical and practical, exhortation and encouragement!
Knowing a little about Pastor Tim and his church, primarily through the testimonies of others (like my Pastor who happens to be his younger brother) and through his sermons and blogs, well I was excited to read this and to read it quickly. Now if you listen to Pastor Tim Bayly preach, you might notice the Tom Hanks voice, the slightly annoying laugh he uses, but mostly you'll pick up his attempt to bring the word to the specific people right in front of him (like his brother) which is important to keep in mind when you're tempted to frustrated by his poking and prodding instead of considering it as a mark of love. Likewise if you read his blog and his replies (when he replies), it can often be really short, really pointed, and really open for misunderstanding (every now and again he explains himself and it's really helpful...or it's just left and you just disagree, that's ok too).
This book, however, has been written much more carefully (obviously to a wider audience) and bears a lot of heart, a lot of patience, a lot of hope, while not leaving off the necessity of proclaiming the Word of the Lord as the authoritative Word of the Lord!
I've explained the style of this book as a contrast to sermons and blogs for a reason, I want you to get this book even if you've not found his 'style' (in sermons or blogs) to your taste. I don't mean to imply that he has left off dogmatic statements, fixed convictions, and/or stubborn interpretations, but seriously isn't that what we find from the well-beloved men of old? It's such a tragedy when a man who teaches or preaches the words for decades and has no convictions, has nothing he'll fight for, has nothing he's for or against...ugh, we need more men with GRIT (yes, loving, caring, patient men....with GRIT).
Pastor Tim has not 'reinvented the wheel' and that's why this book is so helpful, because it's so biblical, even obvious and yet it's a call that we just don't hear much these days. The call for Fatherhood in every area which God has called us to, faithful fatherhood for needy sinners.
I'm not saying you'll agree with everything written, especially in a social-media era where we look to present an argument just for arguments sake. You may disagree with parts which are clearly Presbyterian, you may not like the phrase 'father-hunger', you may not agree with the interpretation of the Fifth commandment, but disagreeing with the actual points of those arguments is another matter, because it's clearly biblical!
This book is for men who had father's who failed them and for fathers who have failed (just about.....EVERYONE). I just love this piece from the book,

"The life of faith is a life of obedience in the face of our own failures and sin" 
Yes we have all failed, yes we didn't start off on the best foot, well we can't just give up, we can't just hide under the cover of 'grace' while we watch our families and those we love perish, right? As Voddie, would often point out, that whether men like it or not, they are leading, the question isn't IF we are leading but HOW and to WHOM are we leading?! 

The only thing I would consider lacking, and I know, I know, "who are you to say that?". Well it's my review isn't it? It's the thing that's always lacking today, it's the thing that's hardest to maintain, it's the thing which seemed to carry greater weight in the past and that's prayer.  
Yes, the book closes with really helpful encouragement to pray for our lack and with encouragement to trust that God will hear our cries, nonetheless prayer just needs to be stressed more than ever. 
It's a glorious means of grace, right? one which we can all participate, one where we can not only make our requests but pour out our souls (sometimes those despairs, frustrations, cares, that are burdens which need to be given to our heavenly Father and not dumped on our families, especially our wives) a means where God receives much glory. Prayer will soften our stubborn hearts, make us more willing to apologize, make us more mindful of our actions etc. I amen the points and freedom given in the book concerning family devotions, and yet I would plead with men to strive to not only expose their children to as much of the Word as is possible (and reasonable---usually more than what we think) but to pray with their families, let them hear you regularly entreat the Father for help, for forgiveness, for sanctification, and for the salvation of your children (with thanksgiving). Let them hear you pray for the church, for the lost, for those in authority. What we pray for can communicate a lot about what's important. 

Men, GET THIS BOOK, young men please get this book, you'll amen some parts and you'll say ouch at other parts, young men will say 'I wish my dad read this book', older men will say 'I wish i read this earlier'  and yet by God's grace it'll weigh on each of us personally, and lead us to confess our sins, plead with the Father to help us and conform us to the image of His Son, and motivated by His great love for us, strive to obey and bear fruit for His glory!

Monday, June 29, 2015

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

How the Christian must practically respond to the many faces of the homosexual issue.

Given the recent decision of the Supreme Court concerning 'gay marriage', there has been a lot reactions, a lot of feelings, a lot of praises, a lot of protests among other things. Typically our response is limited to whom we are speaking of, and more often than not we are not all addressing the same person/s which leads to over-generalizations, blurring of lines, unnecessary confusion, and the like.
This won't be exhaustive, and although each example could be expanded, I believe that there is enough to serve the purpose of helping the body of Christ to better address some of the issues.
With that said, I will proceed to list a few different scenarios, so as to provide some examples of the distinctions needed:

To the LGBT(xyz) agenda,
We Christians refuse to bow to their bullying, we refuse to compromise, we say with Peter, (Acts 5:29 ) "But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men." even if it means poverty, imprisonment or death. 
We declare the words of God that such sexual immorality is abominable, that God calls it 'unnatural', that 'marriage' is not a fluid word that can be defined as men please, for God alone has instituted marriage and defines the 'moral' boundaries of it, that it is a covenant between one man and one woman!
We refuse to be bullied into a sort of 'tolerance' which has nothing to do with respect and dignity but calls us to embrace and celebrate what God has condemned, this we can not do!
We will fight, vote, protest every effort to normalize, to indoctrinate, and to adopt 'hate crime' legislation as long as we have the freedoms to do this.

To the Homosexual 'Christian' be it a 'pastor, teacher or church member',
We defend the honor of God and His definition of true followers, by declaring that if you can give hearty approval to what God condemns, if you can live in unrepentant sin and refuse to call it sin, then you are by no means a true believer. You then as the scriptures declare have been deceived and are deceiving others. For such are the particular sort whom we are commanded to have no association with, I Corinthians 5:11 "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one."
This we can declare because the scriptures make clear that those whom Christ have saved, He has also sanctified by His Spirit and called them out of bondage to sin. The Lord made clear that if we were truly apart of Him then we would bear good fruit, because He is the one supplying such change (Mt 7:17-20; Jn 15:1-6). We declare that those who would dare ignore the reality of the power of God in granting believers new hearts which turn from evil and pursue righteousness and suggest that God just gives a sort of weak grace which allows us to do as we please, well we say to such that you are perverting the grace of God as Jude says, (Jude 4) "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

To the Garden variety un-churched man, woman practicing homosexuality,
We say to you, that our message, our gospel is NOT, that you would simply STOP committing these acts and just act normal. We would NOT say to you that you need to give up that sin among sins and then if you get properly married and attend church that God will then, maybe accept and love you, and maybe we will too.
Sir, Miss, we say to you that God has created you in His image, that you were created by God Almighty, that you were made by Him and for Him! We say that God is good, He's perfect, He's unchanging, He's holy, He's just, He's loving etc. The problem however is that man is NOT, man has not submitted to God, man has not sought to please God, man who fell in Adam, man who is born in sin, man who enjoys his sin has strayed from God in words, thoughts and deeds and that because his 'heart' is wicked (depraved). All men have fallen short of the glory of God, all men have sinned, there is NONE righteous (Romans 3:9,23) which can be easily seen in how each individual breaks God's commandments, from lying (and our special sorts of lies), to coveting (the refusal to be content and thankful), to adultery (including that which begins in the desire of the heart,  Matthew 5:28), the dishonoring of parents, the many idols we set up, replace, or pursue instead of God Almighty our creator Lord and the list goes on, which reveals that we are guilty in inestimable counts. If you would press the point then we would unashamedly proclaim that all forms of sexual immorality are condemned by God, that they are forbidden and in opposition to the good, lovely and enjoyable sexual morality which is found in marriage between one man and one woman as God positively defines. We would tell you that if you simply stop performing that ONE sin, which although it would spare another party being joined in your sin (which is not love) it would not make you acceptable before God as lust, pride, and idolatry would surface in other areas of your life as well. 
We would explain also, that all men have failed to perform the heart of the commandments which is to love God with all our hearts..and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All in all this places all men in the same plight, with the same verdict, GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY and consequently and justly under the wrath of God! These UNIVERSAL failures and sins show as God spoke through Isaiah that, (53:6 ) "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way....". So then we would tell you, that you are simply an ordinary sinner, a sinner like us, a sinner in need of deliverance, a sinner in danger of God's judgment, a sinner who desperately needs a Savior, no more, no less than others! 
You see the message is not, become good, it's not, try harder, it's not, earn the love and forgiveness of God, no, no, no! 
We would ask, we would plead, that you would confess your sins and turn to God, that you would embrace the love of God and find rest for your soul! How then can you do this, considering that you like the rest of us are guilty sinners before God, a God who has promised to punish sin, a righteous God who hates evil? God has provided a Deliverer, an acceptable sacrifice. Do you remember the passage in Isaiah which grouped all men together by declaring that all have gone their own way? Well, the whole verse reads, '"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.". 
That is to say that God has provided Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who took on our flesh, who came as a man (the God-man) and was tempted in every way as all men are, yet was without sin, and as He perfectly obeyed His Father, and as He was infinitely worthy in His majesty, Jesus could be our substitute, our mediator, for He had no sins of His own to atone for, rather He willingly took our place, bearing the sins of His people, and paying in full for them. In other words, Jesus satisfied the justice of God, which was demonstrated by His resurrection, and in turn He gives us (imputes) His righteousness in order that we have a 'right' standing before God (2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."). This is HOW forgiveness is made possible, because God has fulfilled justice and has given grace through the work and worth of Jesus Christ! 
As to WHY, we are told first that God has done such for His own glory, in other-words God motivated Himself to do such, for we who are guilty before God could only (in ourselves) motivate Him to punish us (remember we are GUILTY sinners, NOT victims who deep deep down want to be good for God, Jeremiah 17:9), and the other factor of the WHY, as explained in scripture is, 'because of His great love for us..' (Ephesians 2:4), which is what we call AMAZING grace! The scriptures would have us know that the giving of Christ on our behalf in order to save us from our sins, is the ultimate DEMONSTRATION of His love, especially since we were ungodly, we were sinners, we were enemies of God (as unpopular the thought, in our sin we fight against God, it is not what we do, but WHO we do it against). This then leaves us with the question, 'Now what?', well Sir, well Miss, Jesus came preaching the gospel which called men to 'repent and believe' (Mark 1:15) and we may call it 'turn to Christ' or 'Believe in Jesus' or 'Confess and have faith in God' but that is simply different ways to express the same conclusion, that men, that you must give up all self effort to be good, you must abandon every attempt to change God in order to fit your sins, you must agree with God refusing to make excuses, you must freely and fully confess your sins, surrendering to the Lordship (the Rule) of Jesus Christ, expressed in the scriptures. That is what it is to believe in God, to turn from sin, self, and this world and to turn and follow after God. 
Yes come receive eternal life, yes come enjoy the free grace of God, yes come experience the perfect love of God through Jesus Christ! In your surrender, in your salvation, in your repentance which God supplies, yes in this amazing work which God will do in you and through you, granting you new desires after Him, you will find that many sins which you previously enjoyed, which previously defined you, no longer define you, they are desires which you no longer have or which you have, yet fight against and that because your great prevailing desire is now to know and be known by your heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in ALL God's true believing people. So then come as you are, come with your sins, come with your doubts, come with your fears, come with your filth and God will cleanse you, God will receive you, God will restore you and change you for His glory!

To the Finger-pointing upset conservative who wants to join the 'fight',
We say to you, that if you don't repent, you will join those whom you despise in their eternal destruction. We would say with Christ that, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31) which is to say those who see their own sin and confess their sin will be saved rather then those who simply point out sin and ignore their own. We would say to you that you are doing exactly what the often misused 'judge not, lest you be judged' passage is ACTUALLY condemning, which is a hypocritical calling out others sins while hiding your own, such are in danger of great judgment! We would say would you be so bold to call 'evil' one sort of sexual immorality which you don't deal with, while covering up and justifying another sort of sexual immorality which you do deal with? God will not judge you by other men, but by the standard of His word, in your condemning of others you bring greater condemnation upon yourself, unless you repent and believe upon Christ!

To the Bonafide Christ-clinging believer who is tempted with same-sex attraction, 
We say to you dear child of God, dear fellow believer, that you are not alone, you are not a different class of needy sinner. We affirm with the scriptures that your temptations are 'common to man' and that God does indeed 'provide a way of escape' with those temptations (I Corinthians 10:13). We call you to not hide your temptations or sins, to not believe that you need to find refuge among a certain type of people who suffer from a certain type of temptations and sin, but to find a healthy church which preaches the powerful gospel of grace, a place where mature believers would not be shocked to find out your struggles but would offer to join you and ask you to join in helping them as well. We plead with you to reject the lies of the enemy which bring you to shame and which in turn drives you away from God and His people, rather we beg you to embrace the full love of God proven in Christ, to hold firmly to your spiritual adoption as a son, a co-heir with Christ. We encourage you to find your identity in your union with Christ, in what God has made you, a called-out one, a kingdom of priests, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We would exhort you to fight sin and flee youthful lusts by the power of God, by submitting to Him, by casting your cares on him who cares for you, by resisting the Devil, yes we would tell you to do this with great faith, with great hope for deliverance. We would tell you that God is able to do all things, that if He does not take away those desires (which He can, which we should NEVER cease from asking Him to), He will certainly provide the power to overcome those desires. We would say that the fullness of joy is not found in a certain state in this life, or in a certain life event, or marriage or any-THING else, no such is found in KNOWING and ENJOYING our blessed Savior who is infinitely worthy of all things, including our suffering, and that God alone knows what He has in store for each of His people, but we do know that all His promises are ours in Christ Jesus, that none of His people are in want. Rejoice in Him, trust in Him, live in accordance with His word and die daily for His glory and your good (which is your joy)!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Not me, and certainly not MY children!

There is a great danger, a great temptation that every parent must resist, lest they fall into and in so doing become accessories to the sins of their children! That temptation, is the pride of holding to a doctrine like 'total depravity' (think psalm 51, 'in sin my mother conceived me' = a sinner by nature) while acting as if such really isn't true of our children!
For the most part every young new parent has had one of those awakening experiences where we jokingly confess, has 'convinced us of sin nature in children', you know what I mean; you stumble upon your child manipulating another child, or displaying an unthinkable (so we thought) amount of rage towards someone, or even a stare you in the eye with no sort of hesistation flat out LIE! Yep, we've all seen it, and if we're observant enough and honest enough we've seen them do things that were not something they picked up from someone, not something anyone taught them, and it should have convinced us that such children are in fact little sinners, sinners by nature, sinners who (face it) often love their sin, who desperately NEED a Savior!
The scriptures don't teach us to keep our children from 'foolishness' (rebellion) by use of the rod, but that the rod will drive it from them (Proverbs 22:15 it's 'bound up in the heart'). This is a reality that Christian parents must face, they must face it biblically, and that is why keeping our children 'from evil' is not 'training them in the way they should go' because they themselves are the problem and only God can redeem and transform them.
The scriptures warn parents that a 'child left to himself will bring his mother to shame' (Proverbs 29:15) which might be a clue to the importance of the diligent oversight required for raising children. This is another confirmation of the biblical teaching of total depravity, that is not to say we are as bad as we could be, but that men are capable of any and every form of sin! This is true of our children as well, and though we strive to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, if they are not regenerate then they are being restrained by God through various means, but if God was to give 'them over' (Romans 1) to their lusts then whether we can swallow it or not, there is NOTHING that they are not capable of doing or becoming, nothing!
It's the inconvient truth, isn't it? O sure we would never say 'Lord I thank you that I'm not like...those sinners...i do this, i do that...' because that would be self-righteous, right? However what's troubling, is how many might dare to say, "But Lord, I do thank you, that my children are not like....those sinners....they do their chores, they recite their catechisms, they ace their exams, they eat healthy, they are polite, they are cultured, they watch fox news, they help at church...." and that sort of pride-filled naivete will absolutely affect how you address their sins (if you do) and how you apply the gospel!
Now you've seen the parent, or should I say, you have seen this in yourself (at least within), where a parent is told by someone that their child did this or that, and they (or you) reply, "Oh no, that doesn't sound like my baby, my child would never do THAT!", sound familiar? You know it was just the 'wrong crowd', it was a 'bad apple', but oh no, that can't be our children, right?
Do you see the disconnect? Do you see the re-interpretation of what the bible says about man? How can we point our children to Christ if we won't face their problem? How can we truly plead in prayer for their souls if we won't agree with God that they need to be radically transformed?
If we were biblical, if we truly held to what we so casually confess, then we would have a grander view of God, a clearer view and hatred of sin, and a more awestruck view of the grace we have through Jesus Christ!
Take the case of the teenager who molests his younger siblings, at such we are sickened, we are outraged, and we rightly call it sin. Well as time goes on and things are dealt with, regardless of the arguments of what 'dealt with' is sufficient (and what would 'enough' be to make it all better?), the Christian can affirm that if such a one was to confess their sins and truly turn in faith to Jesus Christ than such are absolutely and completely forgiven and even restored by God Almighty! That such are then included among this list of vile sinners '...and such were some of you' (1 Corinthians 6:11) who are not perpetually tagged as a certain cast of 'worse' sinners, but those who have been delivered from such bondage. The world then says, 'wait you sort of Christians take the issue too lightly, you just sweep it under the rug and pretend it's nothing.....' on the contrary we go WAY beyond those who might call for such offenses to be deserving of the death penalty, we say that such are deserving of eternal torment in Hell! We all fall short of the glory of God, and while not every sin is exactly the same, or the same in how God will punish it, all sin has this in common, that it is against a holy God and deserving of eternal punishment! God has not swept any sin under the rug, for such would be contrary to His just nature and contrary to His warnings in scripture, rather God the Father has provided forgiveness of sins by imputing (placing upon/crediting/applying) the sins of His people to Christ, so that on the cross Jesus is paying for the sins of others and thus providing salvation and full forgiveness of sins for those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, those who do that receive His righteousness and are accepted because Christ represents them!
If we were to label the 'worst' sins, the 'worst' sort of sinners, we could start with the depraved sexually immoral, we could show how violence added to that against the most helpless makes it even more detestable, of course not many want to add in those who kill the most helpless (the unborn), but if we were to make a case for those who REALLY will 'get it' from God, it will be those who had the most light and rejected it, namely bonafide HYPOCRITES in the church..........and here's what you need to remember, that sort of sin is described by Christ worse than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, which might just be those of our own children!
For this reason we have NO GROUNDS to think, 'not my children'. Friend face it, your children left to themselves will not only sin, but will enjoy it! They like you, like me, have thought of things, no one should ever think or talk about, horrifying things, evil things! Don't put your hope in their innate 'goodness', don't put your hope in their 'good company', don't put your hope in their 'Christian education', don't put your hope in their 'morals', no you must welcome God's instruction concerning who they are and what they need!
Of course they need boundaries, of course they need to be guarded from this and that, and such matters are addressed in scripture, but we must not fail to come to grips with the reality that they themselves are sinners by nature. They need more than to be kept 'from evil', they need help to see evil within, to consider their dilemma in comparison to God, NOT in comparison to the lost street kids.
This means more than teaching your children to avoid that one house where the registered sex offendor is at (as if you NEED that info to not have your children hang out at some single guys, it's more than teaching them to not let someone touch them here or there, and to tell you about it, but it requires the uncomfortable reality that you must teach THEM not to do that, not to give in to that, not to hesistate in rejecting that, and YES they need to know that it's disgusting and God hates it (and that God sees it).......and shame on us if we have taught them to be afraid to confess such things to us! Furthermore parent, this means we can't blow it off, we can't ignore it or call it something tamer or cuter, or something along the lines of the philosophy of perverse God hating pyschologists, NO, we must call sin, sin, we must deal with sin and never buy the lie that if we give it time or hide it that it'll just go away!
We must loathe and fear the 'appearance of godliness' or else we will sacrifice our children to a host of secret sins which will terrorize them the rest of their lives, and then send them to Hell! It should go without saying that such things, the eternal state of their souls, are in the hands of God, but He has commanded us how to raise them and warned us how not to raise them, so then it is our duty and privledge to give ourselves to following and looking to Him as He instructs, this is how we TRUST in Him, while making every effort to lay no stumbling blocks before our own children!
May the Lord help us all!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Did Job struggle? Can he teach me anything?

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.' (Job 1:20-22)

Who has not read this passage for the first time and thought, "Wow, Job is indeed a righteous man, I could never be like that..." or read it during a trial of some sort and thought "Wow, now there's an exception, there's an extraordinary man.....I just can't seem to get to that place Job was at...".
On the one hand we might be tempted to believe that Job was a different 'sort' of man, that he was unique and if that's the case then what's recorded concerning him has no application for us, God forbid we think that. On the other hand we might be tempted to assume that Job didn't have to wrestle against the flesh when he worshiped and praised the Lord.
Even in the short introduction of Job we see that Job was a man who feared God, a man who had a habit of turning to God, a man who was concerned even about inward sins, a man who resisted evil, thus Job was a man who's mind was renewed by truths concerning God.
A righteous man is not a perfect man, but a man who makes a habit of turning to God, a man who repents quickly and often. Job was such a man, a man like other men who had to resist temptation, who had to cast down thoughts, who had to cling to promises, and who had to IN ALL things come before the throne of God seeking grace in his time of need!
It would be no stretch or assault upon the passage to assume even in chapter 1, that Job was TEMPTED to think and believe LIES which he never uttered. 
Perhaps the thought that God was not good crossed his mind, the thought that God was not in control, the thought that God did not care, and perhaps that God was unjust in all of this. Can you not relate to such temptations? You might not only be able to relate to the temptations, but you can easily recall the death birthed from yielding to those temptations, the sorrow upon sorrow, the hopelessness, the fears, the doubts, the suffocating anxiety, the endless complaints, the bitter envy and anger that flows from yielding to the flesh at such times.
Furthermore it needs to be pointed out that Job's SORROW was not considered sin or lack of righteousness, THAT my friends is normal and good. Can you then, see his statement, his confession in the midst of these sufferings as a rebuke to those lying temptations, as a thrust of the Sword of Truth defending the unchanging character of God Almighty?! 
“Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Hence the NECESSITY of hiding the WORD of God in our hearts, that we may cling to WHO He is, that we may fight the lies of our mind with the truth revealed by God, that we may command our emotions to bow before the Word of our Lord!
The Lord our God is not only in control, but He is GOOD and working all things for the GOOD of His people, He is just and ultimately never gives His people what they deserve but has purchased grace for us through the death of His Son (which just happens to be how God 'demonstrated His love for us'), and that He cares! Can we not see this being proclaimed throughout scripture? We see God comforting His people over and over again by reminding them that He is WITH them and that He is working towards an end, namely our joyous eternity WITH Him. We see God encouraging/instructing/commanding us to seek Him in our 'time of trouble', to ask as a child to a father, to make 'our requests known', to 'cast our cares upon' Him ('because HE CARES for us'). Yes EVEN when it's a result of discipline for sin, we see a pattern of God using such to the same end; DRAWING us closer to Him, for our good and certainly for HIS GLORY!
Yield not to those lies that demand to be heard, rather make a habit of meditating upon the words of the Lord, especially upon His immutable attributes, and make a habit of crying out to Him for increased faith and strength especially in our times of trials BEFORE we let our thoughts and emotions have their way within us, then by God's grace we too might exclaim in worship WHO our God is, just like Job!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be encouraged, you are not needed!

Dear brethren, look at these two verses,

Psalm 50:12 
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

1 Corinthians 3:6,7
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

These scriptures declare that our God is the source of all things, He is the one in control, He is the supplier of all things, we are the needy ones! God is self-sufficient and God is the author of life (physical and ETERNAL). We may labor, we may strain, we may do this and do that, but it is God alone who causes fruit to be born and to grow. This reality takes a necessary burden off of our shoulders, for it removes from us the anxiety of attempting to produce something, to create something which we are unable to do. In fact this is a humbling reality, for we'd like to be able to do something great, something by which we could at least take partial credit, of course we'd never come out and bluntly say we want to steal glory from God, but in our flesh that is exactly what we want.
The pressure is everywhere, for us to do something 'great', to accomplish 'great things'...'for the Lord' of course, oh yes, of course, (hmm) for the "the Lord'. So why is there so much bragging going on? Why such an emphasis on how big my ministry is, how many books you sold, how many followers he has, how many classes they lead, how much they volunteer, how much she can multi-task and so on, eh?
Pride, pride, pride, will lead us to selfish ambition, to seek the praise of men and it will indeed rob God of His glory and it will rob us of our joy as we seek to find pleasure (be content) in fulfilling some 'purpose' that is noticeable to others, that pleasure, that peace, that contentment which ONLY comes from Him who gives it, not from some thing we do. This sort of competitive living among God's people, will lead to the 'body' trying to be parts (of the body) which God never called them to be, namely the NOTICEABLE parts, and then those who are not noticed are not only overwhelmed but envious, bitter, and wallowing in self-pity. 
Only when we realize who God is, who is running His church, who is the HEAD of the body, then and then only can we begin to be at peace with His wise, good, just, and gracious gifts, callings, and positions. 
Can this not explain the lack of praying in churches today? That we don't really believe that such things are in the hands of the Lord, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, yes even us 'SOVEREIGNTY' people? Wouldn't a fuller understanding of His sovereignty in all things, His workings in and among men, lead us to call upon Him all the more, to plead with Him for help, for power, for grace in all our endeavors? As opposed to just doing more, busy, busy, busy, just adding and adding more programs, more activities, more responsibilities, and consequently a whole lot less time doing those necessary and unnoticed things. 
In such a culture, it should not come as a surprise that there exists a great number of people doing 'small' things that will feel (trained to feel, by implication) quite insignificant and useless. For instance, the young mother who serves a handful of little ones and her husband in such a culture will either learn to find contentment and joy in doing all those things as unto the Lord, OR she will have to 'accept' her meaningless role until she can tell others of how bright or gifted her little ones compared to others OR she will overwhelm herself taking on additional duties (noticeable duties) that will indeed produce those temporal flesh-pleasing praises while she pulls from the most important duties spelled out to her by her Lord and Master in the scriptures, which in the LONG run will lead to much regret.
Now look at this familiar passage,

Luke 10:38-42
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Is this passage teaching us that doing work is 'unnecessary'? Uh, duh, of course not! That should be obvious, it's obvious that there are many things that must be done, things which we all must do, work is a GOOD thing! Yes it is good to be 'spent' for the Lord, to serve Him with all our heart, to serve the Lord with all our...'strength'. However the problem for us isn't missing the point about doing those things which are necessary, the problem is that we lack a fuller and biblical understanding of 'necessary'. In this passage we see Jesus rebuke Martha for her anxiety and frustration in her service (anxious while serving, hmm, sound familiar, much?) and commends Mary for sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Wait, Jesus says that was 'NECESSARY'? "But Mary, there are things to do, Mary there are needs to be fulfilled, Mary you're not accomplishing anything, Mary, everyone else is working." 
The point is that Jesus WAS working, that Mary was receiving the blessings which produce fruit, she herself NEEDED to spend time with Christ, she NEEDED to hear from Him, we all do! Our time with the Lord is vital, it is important work, it is necessary! Furthermore, it'll be alright if you stop and rest, it'll be ok if you have to turn down some 'opportunities', it'll be just fine if you can't do, lead or be know why right? Because YOU ARE NOT NEEDED, God is, you're not, be encouraged, He can handle it quite perfectly without you. 
Lastly let's look at this next passage,

Colossians 3:17-24
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

You see it right? Do you see how this passage is sandwiched? 'Do everything in the name of the Lord' for the are serving the Lord Christ." For Him, do it for Him, serve Him! Now consider the ordinary nature of these things, the unspectacular appearance of these things, they are certainly unglamorous, often unappreciated, acts of labor that we would consider anything but 'service' to the Lord. O yes we make mention of these verses and we talk about 'doing it for the glory of God' but do you get it, do you get how God is showing forth His divine sovereignty by placing us in such situations, in such roles, that others may despise, that the world may sneer at, but which God is ACTUALLY pleased by? If then we find ourselves in a limited capacity, or in a season of life where the 'need' is in the places where none see, then so be it, let our resolve be to do it for the one who 'sees in secret' and refuse to please that glory-seeking flesh with the appearance of 'being a servant'. Friend, you must then ask yourself, have you been neglecting the most necessary things in order to find fulfillment in something public? Of course it's always easier to maintain (for a while) the appearance of fruit in public, than it is to be fruitful in private. May none of us respond like Peter to our Lord, when Christ asked 'Do you love me' and proceeded to foretell how Peter would die and Peter responds  “Lord, what about this man?” then Christ tells him "...what is that to you? You follow me!”  Yes, that's it, He's the head of the church, He's gifted the church as He pleases, He plans our lives, He calls us to assume certain roles, He is in control and we the sheep need only to follow Him....not in some roles, not in the 'big' things, not in competition with our brethren, but day by day seeking to be faithful to Him according to His instructions!
Be free from burdens you were never meant to carry, be free from trying to keep up with everyone else, be free from competing, yes be free from worrying about everyone else, be free from trying to perform for the love which God freely offered and demonstrated in the giving of Jesus Christ, do this by repenting and setting your eyes once again on the prize, JESUS CHRIST. Be encouraged, He reigns supreme, the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, He does whatsoever He pleases, besides YOU ARE NOT NEEDED.......but you/we/I need HIM!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jesus Christ the Humble King

In the letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul exhorts the church to be humble as Christ was humble in His coming as the God-man. Jesus Christ born of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit was fully God and fully man, the difficulty lies not in proving that the scriptures reveal this, rather the difficulty lies in our ability to grasp a glorious miracle in which we have nothing to compare it to.
With that said let us look at the passage and a few considerations of Christ's humility,

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Instead of 'grasping' the divinity which was fully His, Jesus emptied Himself, took the form of a bond-servant, and was made in the likeness of men. His humility was seen in His obedience and ESPECIALLY His obedience unto death! WIthout detracting in any way shape or form from His glorious and primary submission to God the Father in His perfect obedience and joyful acceptance of His will, I want to give some attention to some other aspects. 
Consider with me just a few contexts displaying how magnificent His humility truly was:
*Humble in His taking on flesh: Jesus in His humanity actually had NEEDS (FYI, God doesn't have needs), Jesus not only needed rest, food, water as a man but Jesus as a child even needed to be carried, to be fed, to be changed, to be bathed etc.

*Humble in His submission to authority: Jesus not only submitted to Mary and Joseph, He even submitted to a foreign oppressive (raised up by the hand of God) ruler as He pays taxes!
*Humble in His patience with His disciples: Bearing with their weaknesses, questions and even employing them in tasks which He could do faster and better!
*Humble in His trial and abuse from men: as He took blows which He could have stopped, enduring the whips from puny men whom He had created, refusing to respond in vengeance towards His mockers! 
*Humble in His treatment of His betrayer:

  •   It's mind-blowing to think of how Jesus treated the man He KNEW was His betrayer, so gracious was His treatment of Judas that none of the disciples ever had even a hint of suspicion concerning this man that they traveled and lived with for years! Think of the many times Jesus feeds even Judas, how He sends out even Judas, how He shares precious truths even with Judas! Call to mind the objections Judas made concerning the ointment poured upon Jesus' head and what mighty power of restraint it took to hear his greed-dripping lies (while everyone else gets the impression Judas is such a compassionate person) and not blow up! If that was not astounding enough, call to mind how humble the act was when Jesus our Lord even washed the feet of Judas, right before his final act of betrayal! Then of all signals, Judas points out Christ with an intimate expression of love (a kiss), and for Christ to not cause the very ground to swallow Judas up at that very moment is quite amazing!
This is our Savior, this is our Lord who so humbled Himself, who wonderfully and willfully submitted to such treatment. The Lord who was determined to save men, not because they deserved such, not because they earned such, nor because of what they could then offer Him, but because of His great love, His DECISION to love us in spite of us, fueled by His desire to magnify the grace of God and display His glory! The Lord Jesus came determined to save sinners, wicked hell-deserving law breakers, although they gave Him, in fact WE gave Him every reason to NOT save us!
Oh but let none of us for a moment forget a terrifying reality, and that the Lamb who came not to condemn but to save, will return as the Lion who will exact vengeance on the adversaries of the Lord! He will return in power, not to take blows but to give them! Jesus Christ, not only warned of judgment, but we are told, contrary to popular opinion, that the guilt is now INCREASED because of His glory and grace being revealed through Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 10:29-31
29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Whether men choose to do so, through faith and repentance towards God, or whether they are slammed down, all, yes ALL will inevitably recognize and CONFESS that Jesus is Lord! May it not be on the way to eternal damnation, may you not reject the majesty of the King who became a child! Humble yourself before God almighty, give up your excuses, turn away from trusting in your own goodness/merit, and utterly reject the lie of your heart that perhaps God will prove to have been only bluffing and that the life, death and resurrection of Christ meant so little that He'll just welcome you no matter what! Seek Him NOW, while you may, while you are reading these words and sensing the truth of these matters, don't harden your heart with excuses so you can continue in your sinful ways, turn to God, He'll cleanse you from your sins, He'll transform your life by dwelling in you, and He'll ensure you dwell with Him in eternity! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Explaining to our children preferences, convictions and distinctions among brethren WITH GRACE

     Let's face it, Christians differ on a number of matters, and that often or perhaps i should say sometimes for good reason! It is customary to call such differences 'secondary issues' (interpretation differences like paedo baptism vs credo baptism, differences in liberties like teetotalism vs moderationist as concerns drinking alcohol etc) , so as to make the point clear that there are bonafide God-obeying, Christ-exalting believers who differ on subjects which don't negate their standing as believers, despite the reality that some of these issues are still very important! 

The sticky part is how to explain such differences to our children, how to gracefully disagree with others while maintaining the unity of the brethren, being free of slander and not leaving the impression upon our children that our convictions on the matter reveal our superiority over those lukewarm if that, church-goers.
Seek wisdom in this, seek to be careful and clear in this and learn from leaders who model such unity while maintaining their stands, lest we raise mean-spirited, arrogant and elitist Pharisees!
With that said I will offer some EXAMPLES of what NOT to do (they are of course comical exaggerations and straw-men  so please don't get offended, lol),

Halloween participating child, 
"Mommy why don't those kids dress up?"
"Well, sweety long time ago in Salem there were these witch hunters and....."

Halloween abstaining child,
"Mommy why do those kids dress up?"
"Well, sweety I guess they like worshiping the Devil..."

"Dad why do they send their kids to public school?"
"Hmm, apparently they love the world and want the world to raise their children.."

"Dad why do they homeschool their kids?"
"Hmm, apparently they think monks and nuns are a good thing...."

Child of a moderate participant in alcohol, 
"Mom, why can't they have a small glass of wine with their dinner?"
"Baby, they follow the laws of men instead of God...."

Child of a total abstainer from alcohol
"Mom, why do they drink beer and wine?"
"Baby, they must not care about what the bible says about drunkards....."

Child of a credo-baptist,
"Dad, why do they pour water on babies?"
"O, they like the Pope, think the water magically washes sin away..."

Child of a paedo-baptist,
"Dad, why don't they baptize their babies?"
"O, they like the abortionists, don't want their babies saved..."

Child of a Israel supporting dispensationalist,
"Mom, why don't they support and work for Israel?"
"Hun, WWII might be over, but I guess Nazis are still around..."

Child of a Israel neutral convenantalist, 
"Mom, why do they focus so much on the land and people of Israel?"
"Hun, they think people are are saved by blood not faith....."

Hehe....brethren, laying aside the extreme cases, let us be wise in explaining to our children differences among the true body of Christ!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Don't WASTE your homeschooling!

It goes something like this, 'Are you a homeschooler?' "Wow, me too!' and there you have it, two peas in a pod right? Not exactly, such an association might only describe where two parents don't send their children and that might be the only thing those two parents have in common. The point, is that the differences abound not only in structures and curriculums but also in worldviews, and so I hope to sound somewhat of a clarion call to fellow homeschoolers in order that their opportunity might not be 'wasted', the opportunity of having more time, more control over what specifically influences their children!
Here then is a choppy list of some things we must not neglect,

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach and to share the gospel with your children frequently, for they desperately need to hear it until they come to faith, and they desperately need to hear it frequently after they come to faith. A great many pitfalls will be avoided and a great many extremes nullified if by consistent exposure to the gospel, your children are convinced that they are great undeserving sinners in need of God's grace, and that if in anything they stand apart from others around them, it is due only to the grace of God within them!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to pray daily with your children, to teach them to turn to and to depend on God, to teach them that their teachers (parents) desperately depend on the help of God. Prayers of thanks will teach them that all blessings truly flow from God, prayers of intercession will teach them to compassionately desire God's grace to be given to other people, and prayers of repentance will teach them to humble themselves before God and strive towards holiness!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach your children sound doctrine. A biblical worldview demands first a familiarity with the scriptures, and a reasonable ability to interpret scripture (hermeneutics). What a shame if they master fields in academics and yet are ignorant of the attributes of God, of the doctrines concerning salvation, of the doctrines concerning the church etc!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to teach them the importance of the local church. It is good and well that children learn to submit to their parents and especially their fathers, but if that is where it ends then that is not biblical. This is why a healthy church is so important, because they need to be in a place where they see the whole family involved and submitted, as God has designed, to a local church led by men approved by God according to the scriptures. Parents must humble themselves in this matter, showing by example what it looks like to honor the elders of the church, and what it means to love the body which Christ died for!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to shape and refine the very character of your children. Just finishing the work and making 'the grade' is not enough, for you their parent must notice and deal with their attitudes as well. Confronting and disciplining sinful attitudes as well as training them towards good attitudes is something you have been uniquely called to do by God, from humility, to diligence, to truthfulness, to compassion, to sincerity, to gentleness, to self-control etc are such that by God's grace you can instill in your children!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to challenge your children towards excellence. Exhort and help them to hone their natural gifts and to grow in the areas they are weak. Don't allow them to simply cop out and give up, but call them to strive (within reason) towards excellence. For instance, after they take a test, review with them the wrong answers and seek to help them think through what and why and how they got it wrong (not to alter the test, but to challenge their thinking).

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to instill in your children the necessity of discernment. I suppose this comes naturally when it comes to a subject like evolution vs creation, but think of the blessing of applying such a discerning eye towards all subjects. They need to be trained and shown by example, to discern everything, all claims of truth, all forms of media etc by the word of God, to read everything, asking first, 'What saith the Lord?'!

Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to show them that all matters of life and learning are matters of worship. If one subject is most mockingly brought up as being incapable of holding anything other than a neutral place concerning God it is math, but strange as it may sound math is but one more reason to worship the Lord! For the very order, the consistency, and absolute nature of math is but one testimony to the order, consistency and absolute nature of God, His ways and His truth. Every history, every biography, teaches us something about worship, either the worship of the world or the worship of God and the consequences and the blessings of such.

9. JOY
Don't waste the ample time you have been afforded by neglecting to love on them, pour affection on them, and show that you enjoy them for the sake of their joy. They must be convinced that all their striving, that all their work, that all their obedience is not a means to receive your love, but something they do because they know they are loved. Spend 'off' time with them, talk to them, have 'heart to hearts', have special days with just them, play with them etc. Children are indeed a blessing from the Lord and He calls us to raise them which includes showing affection towards them, let us then be resolved to see them in such a  counter-cultural way by God's grace!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A multitude of mercies

This is a sermon I preached 2 wks ago to God's people..........a quite unconventional survey sermon (for me) which I hope at the least would whet the spiritual appetite of God's people to further their understanding of the freeing and moving love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Keeping children in the service, why and how

A brief case for and help towards, keeping children in the church service...

I write this post not to formulate a new law in which to bind men, but I do write fully convinced that it is wise, good, and fruitful to forgo separating children, youth and adults by having separate 'church' services. However I'm not writing to present a case for a family-integrated model, for I'm not suggesting there should never be times where say in classroom settings (Sunday school) that children or youth are specifically targeted, but I do believe such should certainly not take place during the Lord's day service. I'm also not saying that if a church does this then they are unhealthy or apostate and should be abandoned (don't bother responding if you take it that way, for or against). With that said there are some who do what i think is quite unique, for some encourage the parents to engage the children on what they have learnt or 'picked up' from the sermon, while some churches like Paul Washer's church in Virginia, actually address the children with a separate short message and then preach to the whole congregation (with children present). I'm not so much addressing the 'nursery' either, though I still think it's unnecessary, although a 'crying room' lol (where one can briefly if able, can calm or change or feed their baby etc), might be helpful.

Here then is some food for thought (It would be nice to convince some, but more importantly, maybe more realistically, lol, I wish to support those who have decided likewise)

Preaching should be central on the Lord's Day, for God has given such 'gifts' (Pastors etc, Eph 4) to equip the saints, yes the 'preaching' of the gospel must be heard and is indeed a means of grace which the Holy Spirit uses to move men to trust, cherish and obey Christ.

*since preaching is so vital, necessary and powerful, we should not limit it's reach nor help in assisting others to miss out on it (which happens not only for the children, but for all the 'helpers', all the 'teachers' and even IF there's somewhat of a rotation there's always a few volunteers who rarely, if ever, get to sit under the preached word and receive this vital grace {and that quite contradicts what most believe about preaching}), unfortunately it's the most vital parts of worship (typically preaching and the ordinances) that are missed (or interrupted) because of the unnecessary extras we add to the Lord's day

*i contend that having children present would be in keeping with the scriptures (since children would have been present during the service) and with a grand majority of church history....and one would be hard-pressed to argue a case from scriptures that such should be done

*children hear more and understand more then we believe, and ESPECIALLY more then most presently believe (of course we can always do things to help them learn to listen better)

*parents are called to teach our children in the 'fear and admonition of the Lord', and it certainly makes sense to teach them (even IF they don't 'get much out of it') that there is something unique, something distinctly separate (holy) about the Lord's service, about the sacraments, preaching, and prayer etc, and that unfortunately has been lost for far too many in our day (as opposed to church simply being a fun, interesting, playtime)

*children love to imitate, and if they are challenged (i know it's considered 'old-fashioned') to grow in maturity, to be trained towards adulthood (another lost goal of our day) it would do them good

*it seems quite hypocritical to expect children to sit and listen to a teacher in say school (if u do that) but not to teach them to sit and listen to the word preached. Perhaps some would object saying 'But that's geared towards them, they can understand it', well then what if they can't understand? are they allowed to walk out? Better yet if an adult family member begins to talk to them (and u know some that don't do the gaga language, but speak a little 'over the head' of the child) would you be fine if you child walks away, since they don't 'get it'? I hope you would consider that rude, well then should not the Lord receive much more attention?

HELP!! Assistance in teaching children to sit quietly in church:
(this is NOT expert advice, but some things we have found to be helpful in teaching/training our 7 boys to sit quietly in church)

First things first, here then are some reasons why NOT to teach them to sit quietly in church:
*don't do it for self, to be seen or as a sign that you belong to an 'elite' class of super-parents
*don't do it because it shows your children are holy and others are not, for they are but restrained little heathens who desperately need the grace of Jesus Christ
*don't do it without a conviction concerning the importance of the Lord's Day, don't simply do it to make some statement

Now then, let me suggest a few things that should help:
*a good example: children NEED to see you yourself display a high regard for the uniqueness of the Lord's Day
*much prayer: plead with the Lord for help in doing this, and plead that the word might be effectual towards them
*train! Discipline disobedience, but first TRAIN them (at home) how to obey, regular family devotions where the children are required to sit and listen is of first importance, and perhaps additional times where say a parent sits the children down and are read a story (explain what's expected of them: paying attention, no side chat etc) and quickly and consistently discipline them when they disobey (a quick smack, a flick, etc)...yes children need free time and playtime but they should not be given the freedom to always chose when they decide to listen or show respect etc
*light discipline during service, (if needed..hahahaha), not saying if they fidget or something (age can come into an extent), but purposely being distracting, loud, rude etc (quick flicks are good), and maybe there's some times where u need to deal with them in a bathroom (BUT, if for some reason it seems quite unwise, lots of people,lack of opportunity etc......then assure them such WILL be dealt with at home or when you get in the car, but be sure to follow through so not to teach them that you are bluffing, one parent may be better at remembering then another...but don't let it go because a short time has passed) ...remember we are obeying the Lord in applying the rod, and we do so for the good of our children
*sometimes it might help to engage them during 'hey remember that story' 'did you hear that name' etc
*often it helps to remind them of the expectations BEFORE you get to church (knuckleheads need repetition)
*encourage and compliment good behavior, while being careful not to teach them that they have accomplished some 'good works' (giving children the gospel frequently will help fight that tendency) nor allowing them to compare themselves with other children ('well, son i don't know about them, but God has called YOU to obey ME and that's what we need to worry about .....thankfully I've not had to correct that kind of sinful question yet)
*a little ingenuity might help in calming and quieting babies and toddlers, trying to gauge feeding times better, trying to learn how to bounce them, and if all else fails 'o well' just carry them for a while or step out if they're acting possessed :)
*a LOT of patience and endurance as well, (hoping for the best, but expecting the worst), with some it might be quicker, and with others WHOA, it might take some months (but don't give up....cling to those convictions, keep the goal and proper motive before your eye....and by God's grace keep on keeping on)

Well that wasn't anything revolutionary, and certainly it wasn't exhaustive but I do hope it's helped someone out there........and i do hope nothing was misunderstood, grace and peace.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Propaganda, precious puritans...missed it by that much

Propaganda, a talented spoken word artist and Christian rapper in his latest album (which was free) released a song titled 'Precious Puritans', in it he points out some problematic points of history concerning Puritans and slavery!
However though there are some very valid POINTS being made, the first being that no men deserve pedestals, that we should not ignore flaws when we see them, that we should not whitewash history in order to protect truth etc, there is YET a spin, a direction that simply isn't going to help a lot of people. When it comes to racism and especially in AMERICA there's a WAY to point out the issues which only stirs up more controversy, which only unleashes deep rooted bitterness.
Take movies for example, Spike Lee was always good at that, he made valid points, presented some real gritty scenarios and yet for many of 'us' it left us angry, bitter, and feeling quite justified in our sinful responses and outlooks (which goes beyond 'telling it like it is' and rather finds racism EVERYWHERE and in EVERYONE which also breeds a stronger stance for separation while still complaining about such separation)...o yes I know about racism, I've felt it, i know what it's like to be in a school as the only minority, I also know well the anger, the rage that came with that from within, despite being 'only' half-black.....and for such reasons and more Christians especially should address and critique such issues in a way and in a spirit that is DRASTICALLY different from the way lost men do.

Before we dive further and before I lose you, let me first say this:
We should still read, enjoy and quote the Puritans NOT because they were the epitome of Christ followers (and issues revolving around slavery would not be the only flaws we could find among them), rather we as believers are called to judge TRUTH according to the word of God, and if TAUGHT truth lines up with scripture then we can profit from it, yes if truths on family, on preaching, on Christ, on the gospel, on holiness etc LINE UP with scripture then we have no need to dismiss them, for we understand that such TRUTH originates from God!
Since scripture is our guide, our standard, we can model what is good with discernment, now as concerns DOCTRINE and specifically FALSE DOCTRINE we find an altogether different response in scripture, we are to avoid such, to mark such, to defend against it, and as we look back in history we must be careful to differentiate between error and heresy, between bad teaching and false teaching, between apostasy and compromise.

One major problem is that this song generalizes 'PURITANS' and this is extremely careless, for the Puritans (which would start with England, not America) are a wide bunch, a large group of believers varying on a grand number of things, not some league of men who teamed together under one statement of faith. Furthermore it is commonplace to find among 'puritan-era' books/sermons calls for examination even for those WITHIN the church AND ministry, so it is clear that some were simply not saved.
This would be why such lines like 'You know they were the chaplains on slaves ships, right' don't help bring any clarity or fruitful thinking, just a reaction, did they then not offer the gospel to such men? Also we should bear in mind that there are many times even now where 'chaplains' are serving in situations that they don't necessarily agree with. 
Second, is that when it comes to slavery, there are a myriad of factors to keep in mind (not blanket excuses, but things which help us understand) like,
1. Did all have knowledge of the evils and origins of the trade? (Knowledge is important, and Wilberforce understood that as he attempted to learn and teach others of the gory details of the slave do pro-lifers concerning abortions etc).
2. The scriptures are not void of references to slavery/servanthood and that's not to say that the scriptures condone the slave trade and the scriptures CERTAINLY don't condone the abuses, violence, and hatred of the slave trade, YET.....what we don't find is the example of the early church to correct all problems of the day by political action, the gospel is the heart of Christianity, with that said considering that they like all men were 'men of their time' (which NEVER excuses evil) but it does in the case of servants/slaves present a grand dilemma theologically, and to ignore it completely is quite careless.
Propaganda asserts:
"I should be content in this stage, right? Isn’t that Paul taught? According to your precious puritans."
Which depending on the context could be monstrously harsh (which appears to be the only option he cares to suggest)....OR as we have seen in the New Testament such language being spoken to slaves, spoken to the oppressed, spoken to the persecuted and yet in those cases such 'contentment' doesn't mean there isn't sin, that there isn't a problem, that there isn't suffering, so such a statement only brings forth an emotional knee jerk reaction w/out pause, for in such cases the call for contentment is not a surrender to the whims of men but to present sovereignty of God.
The attitude and spirit of the song implies perhaps unintentionally, the worst scenario possible: that such men not only worked from how things were, but were supporting it, helping it, being premeditated promoters of it, and that ALL without exception despised such people, demonized such people, abused such people, and for those reasons and more it's clear that such are absolutely LOST MEN. Now the end of the song supposedly clarifies that the point is that God uses 'crooked sticks' and that nobody is 'inerrant' but if that was the ultimate 'lesson' then why add so many lines about not quoting them at all, about how wrong it is to quote them, UNLESS you're saying quoting anybody would be forbidden. This is a confusing contradiction, for it gives the impression that those who quote Puritans (just about all leaders, past and present...Spurgeon loved them, certainly read more about them and from them then anyone, and while Spurgeon spoke clearly and loudly against such abuses as slavery, he wasn't wrong to quote and admire a number of them) are either ignorant white-man worshippers or mean-spirited racists at heart, and any such pictures EVEN CLOSE to that analysis would be detrimental to the body of Christ.
I'm not attempting to defend them, and I certainly would not defend the more obvious and clearly forbidden atrocities done or commended and where we find sin we should call it sin plain and simple, YET I find this song in particular to be found wanting, and for those who understand the balance and are quite healthy it will not do any damage, but for those not as strong, not as balanced, not to mention struggling to walk in grace, to submit to leadership, to learn good theology, this has the potential to drive them away from fruitfulness and to disregard truth from any man UNLESS that man 'is coming from where I'm coming from'. In other words this will only work against true unity within the reformed community OR it will be a whipping tool for especially young people to use against older reformed men and especially white men. Such critiques are often bully-like rants which push white people into a corner demanding they apologize for all the atrocities committed by humans with the same skin shade, and that my brethren is unchristian.  I agree with the assessment of one of my African brothers (yes actually FROM Africa) "One of the problems with the song is this: He is seemingly coming at the issue from a black (Christian) point of view. Instead of a Christian's point of view. As a result, I find the song to be black-man/culture-centered than God-centered"

  • Unfortunately I believe the song will be praised (as i have seen) by many who won't bother to think about some of the reactions and justifications that will follow, and as such are welcoming division in a body of believers that are already undergoing such onslaughts within the reformed community (for instance the compromising elephant room 2 nonsense of welcoming heretics and then disregarding biblical discernment by throwing the 'race card' in order to shut down  critics and rally support from bitter men).

  • For further reading, and included in the blog posts are the lyrics of the song (though I'm NOT saying the blog posts clear up these issues, i recommend them not as solutions, but as some good thoughts, questions, but still some unhelpful generalizations and missing clarifications.). (read pt 2 as well)

grace and peace

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