Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiness of life

I was this morning (and has been stuck on my mind all day)lamenting the fact that there are not many reformed and current preachers that are characterized by holiness. I mean in searching for really good and challenging books or sermons of well known preachers and it seems apparent that there is such a lack.
I also read a little of CJ Mahaney's HUMILITY and clearly this guy is concerned about personal holiness. Yet C.J. is Charismatic and for one thing i don't see exactly eye to eye with him concerning that, but YES he's sound, he's reformed. But apart from him and very few (Piper, Macarthur) who really commands a reverence???? There should be a reverence of character about a minister, in fact what should characterize him is 'holiness'!
It's no compliment to be known as 'intelligent', 'innovative', 'funny', 'interesting', 'edgy' and yet this is often what characterizes many today, in fact it's what many are seeking after.
Take for instance Mark Driscoll (i was just meeting with a pastor and the name came up), what characterizes him? "blunt" (which does not always mean 'bold') 'edgy', 'relevant and hip' this is terrible, we are not talking about the next blossoming CEO of America, we're speaking of a 'man of God' and if it's not apparent i'm NO fan of Driscoll, and this from someone who ministers to criminals (that type of 'edge' is unnecessary). Surely he's doctrinally sound, he's seems like a very nice and humble guy. Yet my biggest problem is that he often makes references to his mistakes and bluntness (in repentance like speech) and then uses sermons and interviews to defend it later (I hope he makes up his mind).
Yet shouldn't we strive to be holy above all else, shouldn't we be concerned about being a 'man after God's own heart'. What are the biblical qualifications of a minister, now above that list all the supposed things that a minister needs that are NOT contained in the scripture.
What is it like to be 'close' to the Lord, could you allow me to talk like this? Isn't this being seperated to God way beyond what we 'defend or teach' but the EXPERIENCE of growing CLOSER and CLOSER to God. Another way to say that is to say we are SENSITIVE to the Spirit of God. To be sensitive to sin, to have a quicker and greater awareness of the majesty and holiness of God that we walk closely to Him. In this closeness we are going to be GRIEVED at what God is grieved at.
I can't stand all this talk of liberty, that boils down to 'i'll watch, read, listen and go wherever i want to and not be convicted by it because I'm so mature and can doctrinally defend my positional holiness." Let me then pose this question? By what then is the Spirit grieved? Are all things neutral to God, is there nothing that causes God to burn with anger or to bitterly grieved? Can we be honest for a minute, are there things that entertain me, that God hates? Who under forty is talking about these things? The old writers did, Spurgeon did, the older and living examples today do, what about us?
I can say I'm even angry at myself in these things, that I'm too quick to brush off the sense of God's grievance to sin because I want to be entertained. This shouldn't be, how much can i be exposed to and NOT be affected? How much can i watch and not be desensitized? Are there not things that even AMUSE us, that cause us to Laugh that would cause CHRIST to cry, to weep?
IS this why we see so little, why we can only read of great things, what were the habits of preachers used mightily in revivals (holy and focused lives).
OH God make me one of these, Oh God make them holy, that we would truly and always and more quickly and consistently hate what you hate and love what you love. What did Paul challenge his pupil Timothy about? his points in a sermon? how to reach the culture? NO but to be HOLY!!!!!! Here are some verses that need to be focused on a lot more than 'being sound and doctrinally minded', in other words here's some things that due to the lack of emphasis, you would think should be absent:
2 Tim 2: 22Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
1 Tim 4: 12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

May the Lord bless us with greater conformity to Him, there are men that are admired for these things that are clearly off in many points theologically, and yet their lifestyles shame many of us. A.W. Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill are those type of men who to read you could find much wrong, but at the same time you are left with this insatiable hunger to seek the face of God in repentance, the way in which they MAGNIFY God and the way in which they Speak of prayer and the like, leaves you with no doubt that these men are pursuing intimacy with God (while others are just pursing 'accuracy'. Of course without a doubt THERE NEEDS TO BE BOTH! May God raise up a generation of Puritan like leaders that will be distinguished with a LOVE for the Lord AND (not just) a LOVE for truth.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Careful about Media

Just some quick thoughts:
Regardless of your personal convictions, and especially of the pitiful hoops some even scholars use to make vulgarity, crudeness, even sexual immorality more acceptable, there is much to be careful about.
Saving all arguments, let's agree that in our good intentions we can be misunderstood, and these misunderstandings can become stumbling blocks to other believers, and they can also become ammunition for the lost.
I would say then be careful what you recommend, be careful what you expose others to, be careful in any influence you have to share the things you like to watch or listen to.
Especially ministers, especially in the pulpit; don't risk the site of God's holiness by a weak illustration from a questionable movie, use something else. Often if you make mention of something it stirs the curiosity of your listeners, who say in the movie store might say 'hey, this is the movie the pastor mentioned' and then maybe the mom or dad says 'i don't know about this, let's pick another one' then the child says 'come on if the Pastor watched it, then it must be ok' to this i would say be CAREFUL.
I put this out there as an open-ended principle without getting specific (no promises that i won't one day). We can too often cloud our points by the means we use and to this we must be careful about.
Parents likewise be careful to examine what your children are exposed to, what they watch; NOTHING should be passing their ears or eyes in YOUR house that you are unaware of. Filter or no filters don't kid yourself that there isn't still plenty of temptation left out there. The Internet, the movies they watch, the music, the magazines (edit them personally if you have too)--I like how Albert Martin a very strong and faithful minister said that his wife would serve him by going through magazines and catalogues and tearing out the lingerie ads (WE NEED THIS), know their friends, KNOW the standards of the parents whose homes they enter.

A real quick way, and i think enlightening because we don't often realize what we are exposed to, is a site like this; www.pluggedinonline.com (i'm not particularly a fan of FOCUS..) which gives detailed reviews on current media. Another way i use to check even movie is to write it's title in google then a comma and something like 'content' or 'profanity' etc... You can even type the title and put "script" after the comma.
Anyways thought i throw that out there

The Spirit's help, ministering in the flesh

Today i had one of those awful ministry experiences, you know the ones where you feel completely alone, like you are left completely to your own efforts and they miserably fail!
No i don't intend to depress you, but consider this with me.
There are times when a minister, in whatever capacity tries with all his might to reach his listeners and he seems to lack any authority, to lack any persuasion, to lack any help from the Spirit. It feels like you've been handed a muted microphone, you sweat, you yell, you try with all your might and ......NOTHING!!!, no response whatsoever, things only get worse. Like the Apostle Paul who seems to hold the attention of the crowd, until they start rioting (you think a man that was just beaten and then gets up to preach would be able to command the attention of his hearers Acts 21,22).
In the Jails this happens once in a blue moon, more with juveniles than with the adults. Although i have had "one'' character that like to pose as a Christian but was one of the 'seasoned' criminals, who knew the game in and out and would come to services to talk with people. Well this man was so disruptive once that after that i would confront him more head-on in the beginning of each service, which helped a lot.
These are the worst of times, when a sermon becomes an argument, when you spend all your time trying to quiet down the crowd, the times where time completely runs out before you know it and you then realize that you were unable to say anything of sense. I guess this is why i sometimes break from some preaching 'models' and get right to the point early on. Sure there's to a sense an art of preaching yet it's not entertainment, it's not about building up some great finale, some great suspenseful ending, you can get lost in doing those things, sometimes you have to be unconventional and go for the vitals.
This is not a complete analysis, i realize how much emotions can play in these things, and there are times we 'feel' like we have no strength and yet God is working; i'm more addressing the situations when you really aren't having any effect, when you really are relying upon your own abilities, when you become so frustrated that you can't get back on track.
In these times, i believe there is much to learn; for one this must be the nightmare of every preacher, to minister in the flesh, to minister without any effect, to in a sense minister in vain. We must be convinced that it's God alone who can help or save, that without His working, His moving, His awakening, all will be in vain. I would warn also the preacher who makes pretty sermons, with pretty illustrations, with beautiful quotables, and dramatic expressions, the type of sermon that would without doubt earn great accolades at any seminary yet flys over the heads of his listeners; I suppose such a preacher would read of this experience and think to himself 'what is this guy talking about, i've never considered such a problem' and i would suppose that his problem is that he has no concern whether he reaches his hearers. This preacher is still a seminary student, he is still preaching like he's in a class room being graded by his professor, he's sucked out the life and purpose of preaching and turned it into an act.
I must say that sometimes this failure comes from the neglect of the minister, his lack of preparation. It might be that he has not allowed his message to grab his own heart, he has not studied or meditated over his thoughts. This could also apply to the one who witnesses as well, this more should be able to relate to, rather than 'preparation' of a written or verbal message. There is even more need for preparation of the soul, a prepared attitude, a prepared expectation of God, a prepared humbling and relying up God to make you holy. The careless attitude we can have is pitiful, how quickly we can rush into the day, even into ministry opportunities. I wish i could say that i'm not familiar with such an experience.
Another lesson I would suggest that the Lord would teach His ministers, and surely what He is reminding me of: Is that without Him i can do nothing JN 15. If anything would need to be engraved upon the eyelids of a minister, it is this: 'for without me, you can do nothing'. Yes i do believe that when we are not consciously walking in this truth, that God often brings things to humble us, to prune us, to cause us to grab ahold of Him. We need, I need daily reminders that 'in me there dwells nothing good' that without His strength, without His upholding power i WILL fall.
I am reminded of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, which i believe he is making it clear that it's all about Christ and His work. 1 Cor 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
In other words, Paul has made it his aim to trust in the working of the Spirit. It's as though Paul was saying 'i could use all these things, i have the ability to speak and entice and persuade, i can be as eloquent as the best orators of the day. Yet if i did this, if this was my method then it would only prove that i really have nothing to say, this message is not mine. This message is not like other messages, this message has power and it's power is not helped by my wisdom. It will be vain if I manipulate you into agreement, because you can't be saved by just agreeing. You must be convinced, you must be given understanding, God alone can do this and my part is simply to tell you what He says." This is seen more clearly in what Paul says next

I Cor 2:10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.



Amen and Amen Paul, this a work of the Spirit alone. Above every other rule of preaching, this is crucial, this is foundational. Without this being a reality to you, try as you may but you'll try in vain. It is out of this reality that you THEN ask yourself, 'ok so it's through the power of God alone, and yet God has chosen to work through men, so God how and what must i say and do?'

What grace the Lord gives us when He humbles us, when He causes us to fail, are there many men who can thrive in successful ministry for long (without such reminders). We need to be protected from pride, we need to be humbled, we need to feel as though we've lost all strength and usefulness so that we get back to the basics, so that we get back to seeking the face of God.

There are those who learn faster than others, there are those who live in a more consistent dependence upon God for strength and i would say that's the norm of those whom God has done much through, and I would argue that's not because of them but because they are modeling daily dependence upon the Lord, they are 'humbling themselves in the sight of the Lord'. While the rest of us hardheaded knuckleheads are 'being humbled'.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Well i'm beginning to ramble so i'll stop, i'm quite tired!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anticipating the TRUE CHURCH CONF 2009 pt1

I am with great anticipation awaiting the TRUE CHURCH CONFERENCE, http://www.anchoredintruth.org/tcc
My friend Chad who is something of an assistant Pastor will be driving the ten hrs to get there and staying at the camp grounds @ $10/night (that's my kind of trip; cheap!!).
The conference consists of much fellowship, and q&a's, and of course flaming preaching!!!!!
The lineup this year has to be the best yet (i would say)
Let me briefly introduce each speaker:
The Host Pastor is JEFF NOBLIT pastor of Grace Life Church of the Shoals
http://www.anchoredintruth.org/ http://www.gracelifeshoals.org/
This southern boy can PREACH! What sets this brother apart is the DRASTIC change he has gone through as a pastor in the SBC. One who used very 'successfully' all the gimmicks, and pragmatism needed to become among the 'greats' in the SBC. Yet the Lord exposed the shallowness of all these things, and Jeff Noblit finally allowed his theology to lead his methodology. Administering Church Discipline in his church, not just empty membership roles but the painful use of C.D. within the church. A Clear view of Conversion over and against false professions. A very careful and God honoring approach to Church membership and Baptism. It is absolutely CLEAR that PREACHING is CENTRAL at Grace Life Church...



Paul Washer President of heartcry missionary society http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/
A former missionary to Peru, zealous for the Glory of God and zealous for souls. A reformed brother who doesn't quite fit in the mold of most circles. Of the three times I've heard him speak I've had the privilege of sitting and hearing him give counsel and answer questions, not to mention speak to him for several hours. With that said, I've yet to meet someone who can speak on such a tremendous amt of subjects with such a biblical worldview. Concerning the subject of the gospel a modern day Jonathan Edwards. Known to most for his "a very shocking sermon, so shocking the preacher was not asked back..."
(which is the most downloaded sermon on Sermonaudio.com of all time) this sermon was delivered at a SBC youth Conference of about 5000 youth. The speaker before Paul was the typical youth Pastor, he made jokes about his weight, and even jokes about sin then very quickly transitioned into a shallow altar call, which the great majority responded to (very casually). One minister asked Paul why he wasn't counseling people at this obvious 'move of God'. Paul said that he thought to himself 'what am i doing here?' In fact Paul Washer had intended to preach an entirely different message. Paul Washer humbly confessed that even while he was approaching the pulpit he was under much temptation, he was tempted to just give a 'pleasant' message, a 'missionary' message that would open many doors in the future, why lose this great opportunity? Yet praise the Lord, that Paul Washer was given boldness and loved so much that he was willing to be hated. After the message there was one Youth Pastor who was incredibly angry at Paul and told him that the majority of his youth group was weeping on the bus because they doubted they were saved. Above what we typically see, Paul has also had to witness the horrible effects of the "American gospel" globally and is defending the faith.

Voddie Baucham Author, Conf. speaker, and Pastor/church planter
Here is a link to the core values of the church he is Pastor of, which i really think is great!
http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/GFBC_/Values.html Voddie is very intelligent, yet very down-to-earth (and funny), a man who models the things he fights for. A biblical father and husband applying the scriptures rather than culture to his lifestyle. Check out this link to his answers concerning preaching.
http://unashamedworkman.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/10-questions-for-expositors-voddie-bauckham/ Voddie was even on CNN during the elections speaking on Sarah Palin

Well I'll stop here and introduce the rest of the speakers later

Sunday, December 21, 2008

life with lots of kids

I was just thinking about this, certainly one goal for me and my wife is that by God's grace, our example may be a blessing to many who's perception of children has been way too influenced by the culture. Currently we have five boys 4yrs and under and one (another boy) on the way in March 2009.
Why and How? I'll tell you that it is not what people usually think: We didn't come from large families, we weren't affected by 'full quiver' groups, nor did we adopt these beliefs AFTER we heard or read something.

Even before coming to solid reformed doctrines, we believed FIRST that children ARE a blessing (i know of NO other blessing that ANY Christian can call TOO much). We SECOND believed in the Sovereignty of God (at least in this point) according to the testimony of scriptures: which makes it absolutely CLEAR that the closing and opening of the WOMB is in God's hand and with that, we believe that if God chooses to give us children then they WILL be provided for and we WILL receive MORE joy.

Life with 5 little boys, is FAST, EXHAUSTING, LOUD, CRAZY, and absolutely GLORIOUS!!! It is so sad to see people stressed out over their children and always speaking of them as BURDENS (don't curse the blessings of God). It's absolutely heartbreaking to see Christians limit their potential for JOY and their ability to influence their culture through the abundance of children.

The effects of Biblical illiteracy and the way culture has shaped the minds of people has led many to adopt views that are absolutely contrary to the testimony of scripture and church history. Just as with homeschooling (for example), their are many who have had strong convictions at the outset to separate their children from such a wicked and secular influence, seeing the souls of their children worth more than more stuff or prestige. Yet many have later put their children back into the public school system and joined the two worker families. I say this to make this point, those who had such strong convictions in the past did NOT first have their convictions changed, it was that they were affected first by the culture (need more money, need more things, this is too hard, i need significance in the career world, our children need sports) and THEN they adapted their convictions by their doubts. Do you not see the influence of the culture in these areas, good parenting is seen as "keep them busy, keep them popular, keep them happy, keep them getting good grades, and then keep them away (in college) by paying for it. AFFECTS of this: A generation of spoiled, athletically minded slobs, 'strike it rich' without effort, prideful, lust-filled, monsters who happen to go to church (maybe).

HARD???? YES of course, but by the grace of God it is easy and delightful. LOOK we live in a culture that wants everything easy and fast, but nothing worthwhile comes that way: NOTHING!!! God's way is through diligent work, through toil and sweat, yet God's way brings LASTING satisfaction and ENDURING joy!!! That goes for spiritual growth, ministry, marriage, and child-rearing. Which of those doesn't take MAJOR sacrifices in order to be fruitful and God-honoring??

BELIEVE MORE!!!! Trust the Lord for MORE, that He CAN and WILL give you the strength to do these things, that He CAN and WILL provide for all your needs, that He CAN and WILL give you wisdom, patience, endurance, diligence, peace and fruitfulness!!

It would also help if you limit your understanding of the word 'NEED' to the biblical definition and not what the world calls 'need'. I look and hear many that don't have HALF the children we have and make at LEAST triple what I make, have homes 5x bigger and YET THEY ARE MISERABLE, and YES many Christians are like this and WHY? One because they won't trust the Lord to provide and they don't EXPECT their contentment (joy) to be found in HIM.

Currently we drive a 2003 van that was given to us (before that we drove several 'every week being repaired' vehicles you know the kind where they force you to become a regular at hertz rentals---all because we refused to go beyond our means trusting that the Lord would provide in time) and we live in a two bedroom apt (yes i said a two bed apt with 5 small boys). What cracks us up is how upsetting that is to so many people, how ridiculous the times we live in (even TODAY compared to the rest of the world we are living BIG). Would it be nice to have a home? Sure if the Lord 1.moves us to look for that (or we get evicted because of noisy kids) 2.provides that without undue financial strain, yet it's not on our minds, nor do we bitterly just pretend to be content. The pursuit of God must be a greater desire as well as the salvation (and sanctification) of our children rather than being consumed with bigger and better cultural status.

Too many believers have been trapped by these snares and infected many others: yet IF only we would hope for MORE, we would yet receive MUCH blessings.

We all must get back to the more important things, we must ALL return to our first loves: for the great majority of us (certainly for us) returning to our PRIOR convictions (the ones we had BEFORE our circumstances or emotions caused us to justify changing those convictions) we would truly be on that pathway of holiness.

Does this sound too legalistic? Why? Would you answer be "because the scriptures say......." If you think that i am being legalistic, i guarantee one of two possibles: You are either not letting the scriptures shape you thoughts on this or 2. you have come from legalistic backgrounds perhaps even the mean, gray, and hairy homeschool mom that really needs Jesus!
This of course has much to do with the sufficiency of the word, the admonitions and responsibilities that God gives to Parents and the effect of the culture on the life and thinking of our children.

I like what Paul Washer said in regards to the objection: "well i just want to give them better than i had", Paul replies "God never called you to give them better, and most likely you are who you are today because of the things you had to go through". Now that's sound advice, even in the department of saving for their college (1st who's to say that's best-how many move back home after school?), Wouldn't it be better for them and you to train them to save and appreciate the things they work hard for, even if they have to take a short break or juggle a job (i've seen and heard many testify to the difference in attitudes of children that had to pay their own way through school and those who had it all given to them (many are the undecided majors and the kids who just hang around on campus)- of course i'm not saying all do this.
Men! Yes men i also have a bone to pick with you! Can you not let go of your doubts and your toys in order to bless that wife who WANTS more children have some. Who are you to deny her such a privilege and blessing? (is that part of your headship?) On the other hand i'm not speaking of 'romanticising' about having 'babies', not the 'oh so and so had a baby so lets try again' but later 'why did we have another?' This of course is the prevailing attitude of teens who WANT a baby, like they want a new hairstyle; but have no desire to 'raise' a child.
May the Lord bless a change in your attitude concerning children, may you find greater delight in your own children, may you experience a deeper awareness of the stewardship you have been given, and may you see what great opportunity you have to bless this world for the glory of God.

in addition to this:why not be counter-cultural in this too? Have you ever heard the phenomenal birth rates of Muslims vs Christians? Of course you've seen them walking around with a truck load of kids; i say that this shouldn't be, if anyone should cherish children, if anyone should trust 'things to work out' it should be the CHRISTIAN.
Oh magnify the Lord with me.

in addition to that: There are so many, and i have met my share of older couples that said 'i wish we had more, i wish we did it different'.
Voddie Baucham and his wife greatly REGRET their choice to surgically prevent themselves from having more children. Also countless other couples that have NO children and want them and can't understand why the people that have the ability don't cherish it. well that's all folks!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

perseverance of the saints

P. stands for Perseverance of the saints! Another way to say this is to say; REAL saints persevere. Another way to say it; The only salvation God offers is a COMPLETE salvation, no jumpstarts, no boosts, but a FINISHED work.

1st. Who gets FULL credit for our salvation? God alone! When we stand before God on that final day, not one Christian will approach the throne saying 'I finally did it!', rather 'By the grace of God I am what I am and His grace in me was not in vain".

First let me say that this one i never liked before, i had problems with the implications of this doctrine. It wasn't that I myself was fearfully worried about losing my salvation (funny how convenient that was) but i was concerned about the 'compromised' Christians (professing Christians). It wasn't until later that i even thought of the biblical concept of 'true' and false believers. It never dawned on me, because i never really thought through the gospel, like most people i believed a lot of popular teaching about a lot of things and like a lot of Christians, if i only thought through these things i would see how contradicting my thoughts were.

I heard that Baptists taught 'once saved, always saved' and my immediate thoughts had nothing to do with what happens when God saves somebody or with His promises of working in us until the end (Phil 1:6), rather I thought "wait a minute, you're teaching that you can live any old way and still get to heaven, THAT'S WRONG!". Well i was partly right, i had the 'practical living' aspect right, but i DID NOT have the doctrine right. I rationalized with my own mind what one thing would lead to, and so i rejected it because of what i thought it would lead to.

On the contrary, the real truth is that if God has truly saved you, then you ARE a NEW CREATION and you WILL change. Your tree WILL bear GOOD fruit, you WILL have a desire to live for GOD, you will have a LIFE of REPENTANCE, If your faith is REAL then it will produce GOOD WORKS!

Because: Salvation is a MIRACULOUS work of God in YOU. (mt 10:27)

GOD gives you a desire to follow HIM. (Phil 2:13)

God gives you the ability to FOLLOW HIM. (Phil 2:13)

God Disciplines you when you sin. (Heb 12:7-11)

TRUE BELIEVERS LAST! I JOHN 2:19 This is guaranteed, You must see even in this verse that when you see a 'professing' Christian depart from the faith, regardless of what you may have thought before, it only shows that they were NEVER saved in the FIRST place. It's NOT that they have LOST there salvation (you can't LOSE it, because no one 'FINDS' it), time will eventually (for the most part) show the real from the false (MK 4:16,17).

Roms 8:28-30 is a remarkable passage which shows the purpose of God working itself out in the life of the believer. God sets His special love, His effective grace upon those who He saves, and in all they experience He is using and controlling to CONFORM them to the image of Christ (sanctification). Yet in those HE elected (predestined), He draws (called), Justifies them (clears them from the penalty of sin and declares them righteous on account of Christ), and finally HE glorifies them (where we finally experience the reality of our FULL and COMPLETE salvation from the effects, struggles, influences, and presence of SIN. Notice in these verses (especially 8:30) that there are no BREAKS in the chain, it continues as a FACT, an absolute, and notice also who is DOING it all, GOD!

Yet God, knowing the heart of man, and that it is indeed 'deceitful above all things and desperately wicked' (Jer 17:9), knowing that there is 'a way that seems right to a man but it ends in death' (Prov 16:25), knowing that men are prone to convince themselves of what is false, gives us many warnings in scripture about a life of sin. The Bible is clear to do away with the notion that salvation and holy living are optional, an unsanctified man is a unjustified man! Although it's the only way to excuse the continued use of all the evangelistic methods that produce 'wicked' converts, men who bring SHAME to the gospel of grace.

In fact the Book of Jude in essence (or ROM 6)is one big defence against the thought that you can USE grace as a license to sin, as a hustle on God. Forgiveness of sins you say? And when I'm saved, i'm guaranteed heaven? Sweet! So i just get this 'God insurance' plan and then i can still live as though God didn't exist but I get to go to heaven in the end, right?

WRONG!!!!!

Let it be absolutely clear that to think like that is EVIDENCE of an unregenerate heart ( a wicked scheming heart like Cain), habitual sin, without repentance is only PROOF of FALSE CONVERSION.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 states clearly the condition we too often see before us, wicked men who profess Christ. Look especially at verse 5 'appearance of godliness, but denying it's power'. What's that mean? Well they have a 'FORM', they try to "act" a certain way, they try to "mimic" some Christian things. From what is said earlier, they might ONLY be going to church, MAYBE they might try to 'talk the talk', but they DENY the power. Whether this is only by their lives or also verbally i don't know, but I have certainly seen this; and this is what they are saying; "Yes, I'm a Christian, I love the Lord, I believe in JESUS, BUT, BUT, BUT I'm not like 'THOSE' Christians, I mean I'm still me, I still do some of the same things, I mean I 'try' i just "Can't", I AM THE EXCEPTION, I AM THE CHRISTIAN THAT THE BIBLE DOESN'T TALK ABOUT'. Another way to put it is this: The CHRISTIAN who doesn't bear fruit, is the CHRISTIAN who is PROOF that God doesn't EXIST. To them we say with Paul 'they profess to know Christ but they deny Him by their works.....' Titus 1:16

We endure, we last to the end, because God doesn't give half salvations, he delivers us completely and He so changes us that we can now be called 'born-again', 'born from above'.

This is our Hope, this is our certain expectation, and this hope is a purifying hope. I Jn 3:3

The hypocrite hears the gospel and responds "Sin's no big deal since i'll be forgiven anyways"

The true believer hears the gospel and responds 'Woe is me, against you and you only have i sinned, have mercy on me a sinner, create in me a clean heart, my soul pants after you..." Only the true believer Hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and the promise to all is 'you will be filled'. To the hypocrite God would say 'be NOT deceived GOD is NOT mocked, whatever you sow you WILL reap' (Gal 6:7) To the believer God would say; 10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.13As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.14For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;16for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.17But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,18to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.19The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:10-19

True vs false repentance

I would like to share what i believe is a very accurate look at the difference between false repentance and true repentance. The distinctions have much to do with 'internal' desires, whereas outwardly one may 'appear' to be truly repentant and yet be very wicked, a complete hypocrite.
This is a quote by William S. Plumer (1802-1880):
From 'Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety'
Spurious means/= (False) Penitent means/= (the one who is repenting)
He who truly repents is chiefly sorry for his sins; he whose repentance is spurious is chiefly concerned for their consequences. The former chiefly regrets that he has done evil, the latter that he has incurred evil. One sorely laments that he deserves punishment, the other that he must suffer punishment. One approves of the Law that condemns him; the other thinks he is [harshly] treated and that the Law is rigorous. To the sincere penitent, sin appears exceeding sinful. To him who sorrows after a worldly sort, sin in some form appears pleasant. He regrets that it is forbidden. One says it is an evil and bitter thing to sin against God, even if no punishment followed; the other sees little evil in transgression if there were no painful consequences sure to follow. If there were no hell, the one would still wish to be delivered from sin; if there were no retribution, the other would sin with increased greediness. The true penitent is chiefly averse to sin as it is an offence against God. This embraces all sins of every description. But it has often been observed that two classes of sins seem to rest with great weight on the conscience of those whose repentance is of a godly sort. These are secret sins and sins of omission. On the other hand, in a spurious repentance, the mind is much inclined to dwell on open sins and on sins of commission. The true penitent knows the plague of an evil heart and a fruitless life; the spurious penitent is not much troubled about the real state of heart, but grieves that appearances are so much against him.

This is something i will use over and over again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Love your children?

My wife and I were reading (soon finishing) Jonathan Edwards Bio by Iain Murray. Well at one part it reveals a letter Edwards wrote to his 9yr-old son who was away at the time; This letter is great encouragement, i pray it is a timely rebuke as well if such thoughts are not commonly yours toward your own children.
Stockbridge, May 27, 1755
Dear Child:
Though you are a great way off from us, yet you are not out of our minds: I am full of concern for you, often think of you, and often pray for you. Though you are at so great a distance from us, and from your all your relations, yet this is a comfort to us, that the same God that is here as also at Onohoquaha and that though you are out of our sight, and out of our reach, you are always in God's hands, who is infinitely gracious; and we can go to Him, and commit you to His care and mercy. Take heed that you don't forget or neglect Him. Always set God before your eyes, and live in His fear, and seek Him every day with all diligence: for He, and He only can make you happy or miserable as He pleases; and your Life and Health, and the eternal salvation of your soul and your all in this life and that which is to come depends on His will and pleasure.
The week before last, on Thursday, David died; whom you knew and used to play with, and who used to live at our house. His soul is gone into the eternal world. Whether he was prepared for death, we don't know. This is a loud call of God to you to prepare for death. You see that they that are young die, as well as those that are old; David was not very much older than you. Remember what Christ said, that you must be born again, or you never can see the Kingdom of God. Never give yourself any rest unless you have good evidence that you are converted and become a new creature.
We hope that God will preserve your life and health, and return you to Stockbridge again in safety; but always remember that life is uncertain; you know not how soon you must die, and therefore had need to be always ready. We have very lately heard from your brothers and sisters at Northhampton and at Newark, that they are well. Your aged grandfather and grandmother, when I was at Windsor gave their love to you. We here all do the same.
I am, your tender and affectionate father,Jonathan Edwards

...........................
This should be common language used between families: here Edwards clearly shows his son, that above all else his SOUL's condition is the most important. Now that's biblical love, biblical concern. He doesn't sound like some 'cool wanna-be your buddy' type of dad, the type that seems to permeate our culture, rather a shepherd who's concern is also at home.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

History repeats itself, state of the church?

J.C. Ryle in his famed "holiness" absolutely my favorite and that might be because of it's great affect on me, i can say without a doubt the first really good book i ever read (i read it on the computer and had to use a vacation day the next day because i just couldn't stop reading it--it was pivotal in clarifying my thoughts on the gospel).
This quote from the introduction sounds like he is speaking of us today:
I leave the subject of my introduction here, and hasten to a conclusion. I confess that I lay down my pen with feelings of sorrow and anxiety. There is much in the attitude of professing Christians in this day which fills me with concern, and makes me full fear for the future.
There is an amazing ignorance of Scriptures among many, and a consequent want of established, solid religion. In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, "tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine." ( Ephesians 4:14.) There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true.--There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational, and exciting, and rousing to the feelings.--There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better then spiritual dram-drinking, and the "meek and quiet spirit" which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten. ( 1 Peter 3:4.) Crowds, and crying, and hot rooms, and high-flown singing, and an incessant rousing of the emotions, are the only things which many care for.--Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is "clever" and "earnest," hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully "narrow and uncharitable" if you hint that he is unsound! Moody and Hawies, Dean Stanley and Canon Liddon, Mackonochie and Pearsill Smith, all seem to be alike in the eyes of such people. All this is sad, very sad. But if, in addition to this, the true-hearted advocates of increased holiness are going to fall out by the way and misunderstand one another, it will be sadder still. We shall indeed be in evil plight.

God's rod to His children

Here is a quote towards the end of a book i would recomend reading or giving to any Christian going through any type of trial, no further comments just the quote:
Thomas Brooks "The mute Christian under the smarting rod"
(1.) First, All the afflictions which come upon the saints, are the fruits of divine love. Rev. 3:19, 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten—be zealous therefore, and repent.' Heb. 12:6, 'For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.' Job 5:17, 'Behold! happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty.' chapter 7:17, 18, 'What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?' Isaiah 48:10 'I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.'
When Munster lay sick, and his friends asked him how he did, and how he felt himself, he pointed to his sores and ulcers, whereof he was full, and said, 'These are God's gems and jewels with which he decks his best friends, and to me they are more precious than all the gold and silver in the world!
A gentleman highly prizes his hawk, he feeds her with his own hand, he carries her upon his arm, he takes a great deal of delight and pleasure in her; and therefore he puts a chain upon her leg, and a hood upon her head; he hoodwinks her, and fetters her, because he loves her, and takes delight in her. So the Lord by afflictions hoodwinks and fetters his children—but all is because he loves them, and takes delight and pleasure in them.
There cannot be a greater evidence of God's hatred and wrath—than his refusing to correct men for their sinful courses and vanities1 'Why should you be smitten any more? you will revolt more and more,' Isaiah 1:5. Where God refuses to correct—there God resolves to destroy! There is no man so near God's axe, so near the flames, so near hell—as he whom God will not so much as spend a rod upon! God is most angry—when He shows no anger!
Jerome, writing to a sick friend, has this expression, 'I account it a part of unhappiness not to know adversity.' 'Nothing,' says Demetrius, 'seems more unhappy to me, than he to whom no adversity has happened. God afflicts you, O Christian, in love; and therefore Luther cries out, 'Strike, Lord; strike, Lord, and spare not!' Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God's most smarting rod?
(2.) Secondly, Consider Christian, that all the trials and troubles, the calamities and miseries, the crosses and losses,
which you meet with in this world—is all the hell that you shall ever have! Here and now you have your hell. Hereafter you shall have your heaven! This is the worst of your condition; the best is yet to come! Lazarus had his hell first, his heaven last; but Dives had his heaven first, and his hell at last. You have all your pangs, and pains, and throes here—that ever you shall have! Your ease, and rest, and pleasure—is yet to come. Here you have all your bitters; your sweets are yet to come! Here you have your sorrows; your joys are yet to come! Here you have all your winter nights; your summer days are yet to come! Here you have your evil things; your good things are yet to come! Death will put an end to all your sins—and to all your sufferings! Death will be an inlet to those joys, delights, and comforts—which shall never have an end! Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God's most smarting rod?
(3.) Thirdly, Get an assurance that Christ is yours, and pardon of sin yours, and divine favor yours, and heaven yours. The sense of this will exceedingly quiet and silence the soul under the sorest and sharpest trials a Christian can meet with in this world. He who is assured that God is his portion, will never mutter nor murmur under his greatest burden! He who can groundedly say, 'Nothing shall separate me from the love of God in Christ!' will be able to triumph in the midst of the greatest tribulations, Rom. 8:33-39. He who with the spouse can say, 'My beloved is mine, and I am his!' Cant. 2:16 will bear up quietly and sweetly under the heaviest afflictions!
In the time of the Marian persecution there was a gracious woman, who being convened before bloody Bonner, then bishop of London, upon the trial of her religion, he threatened her that he would take away her husband from her. Says she, 'Christ is my husband!' I will take away your child. 'Christ,' says she, 'is better to me than ten sons!' I will strip you, says he, of all your outward comforts. 'Yes—but Christ is mine,' says she, 'and you cannot strip me of him.' Oh! the assurance that Christ was hers bore up her heart, and quieted her spirit under all.
'You may take away my life,' says Basil—'but you cannot take away my comfort. You may take away my head—but not my crown.' 'Yes,' says he—'had I a thousand lives, I would lay them all down for my Savior's sake, who has done abundantly more for me!'
John Ardley when he told he was going to be burned at the stake for Christ, said that if he had as many lives as he had hairs on his head, he would lose them all in the fire before he would lose his Christ!

Experience rights?

Let me ask a series of questions:
Where does someone get the right to tell you how to take care of your kids, how to lead your family, how to conduct yourself in work, how to go about missions?
What kind of person should be teaching parents and teaching business men? What kind of person should be leading churches or preaching at pastors conferences.
What kind of person can critique wrong practices in the church or in the declaration of the gospel?
In other words we are asking when does SOMEONE EARN the RIGHT to teach others?
For some this is clear, they would immediately go to the gray-haired but is that right?
Does knowledge dwell with the old? Not at all to be disrespectful but this is not so, we must NOT put such contingencies on truth. We should be concerned primarily with 'is it true' not, 'who said it' WHY?
Because even the BEST of men, the best minds of the most holiest men are ALL at best puppets of God, their wisdom is NOT there own, they must be held to biblical accuracy. TEST ALL THINGS and then what? "hold fast to the good".
Consider What possibly David had to say in Psalm 119: 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.
He's saying he was wiser then the older, WHY? because he thought, studied, and meditated more than them (when they were doing other things, he was still pursing these truths), but also more than that he APPLIED (kept) more than they.
Consider what Elihu says at the end of discussion in Job:32: 6And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are aged;therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.7I said, 'Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.'8But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.9 It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
In other words Elihu declares 'Wisdom is from the Lord', not gained through time or experience but solely by the Lord.
That to say this, the best marriage counselor is the biblical one. The best man to teach about child-rearing is man who knows what the scriptures say about such things. This is important to understand because there are no Masters of subjects, although we can also look and learn from those who have BOTH experience and truth.
Yet let this be forever before your thoughts: Never receive from a man who only has experience, imagine a father who has raised 10 children and they are all involved in the ministry, then you ask him about fathering and he tells you things that you KNOW are unbiblical and very secular advice; well then you politely REJECT his advice even though his children are walking with the Lord. WHY? Primarily because little does he understand, that God worked COMPLETELY in spite of him, and so his experience is worth a nickel.
Lastly NEVER reject a man because he doesn't have experience; does the testimony of scripture show primarily men who had EXPERIENCE? No it doesn't. For that man you must receive his teaching as any man and test it against the scriptures; if what he says seems too picture-perfect and you think to yourself 'that's cause he doesn't have experience' it's more likely that he's not as BIASED as the rest and is being TOO biblical.

One size fits all preaching

Albert Martin, one of my fave living preachers, is a shepherd who is not known for a bestseller, or a megachurch, or an affiliation with prestigious men or seminaries, but known for his clear, concise, and cutting preaching.
I've put the sermon below of what i have referenced.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL? Pastor Martin spoke of how every robe he ever bought that said 'one size fits all', never fit, because he figured it was modeled by some narrow shouldered medium build kid. This he illustrated to make the point that in preaching there is no such thing as 'one size fits all' (if i was to leave this statement, i bet all kinds of things would be assumed-but let me explain what he said)
Pastor Martin spoke of how families have left some of their sister churches giving many different reasons, and he said that he would boil them all down to ONE; It's that PEOPLE DON'T LIKE SEARCHING PREACHING, he said they want a GENERIC message that doesn't INTERFERE with how they are LIVING.
HMMMMM?! I'll make some comments now
Surely this can't be TRUE among the 'reformed camp', not among the lovers of the PURITANS right? Sad to say but it SURE IS true for some. This is one reason why it can take so long to find a good church, because you HAVE to look for preaching that isn't Afraid to put it's FINGER on PERSONAL problems and not just the pointing of fingers at the extremes that aren't even faced by the majority (like a reformed church always referencing Mormons or BENNY HINN: that's not fearless preaching that's escaping the problems at hand).
Can you tell a person by the preachers they like? Yes and no
If i was to ask someone who they liked listening to and they said 'macarthur, paul washer, and mark dever' that to me wouldn't be saying much, because I'd want to know WHY they like them; and it's amazing who will like who and why they like them (oftentimes missing everything they say). Some people talk of liking 'hard preaching' and you listen to them speak and live and you are left thinking 'how can this guy like this stuff and NOT try to live it; they are talking about people LIKE HIM!?' Well I'll tell you WHY they like it, because they are critical and bitter people that only want to hear people point out the problems of the church or of bad theology, or a weak gospel so that they can feel justified in their Pharisaical SIN; 'yeah that's good preaching and that's why I don't even go to church anymore' or 'yeah THEIR ALL messed up, but i got my i's dotted and my t's crossed, those IDIOTS----BURN THE HERETICS!!!' These people DON'T like searching preaching either, but they have MANAGED to IGNORE every thing that applies to their problems and only hear what they want to hear.
Is this you my friend? Why do you like who you like? (is it because of the fruitfulness of the effect on your life?) Why do you read what you read? (agreeable and comforting, or truthful and searching?)
In light of the gospel, this is EXACTLY why a GENERIC gospel doesn't exist, because humans (the heart) are masters of deception and will do all they can to avoid personal conviction, it (the heart) will deceive it's host into a nice cosy sleep. Thus you must make it personal, you must be clear that a person grasps the confrontational aspect of scriptures and is not able to hide behind 'everyone' and generic labels.
Well enough with that; I beg you listen to this great sermon

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How's your diet, and your wife?

THis could very well apply to all, but specifically i was thinking of men who are spiritually healthy in their diets. They have a good dose of theology, of the word, of preaching, of edification, of challenge, of accountability, they are growing in the faith!
Yet there's a PROBLEM! Now let me ask those men (and of course anyone could ask themselves)
What's the state of their soul? How healthy are they? Are you SELFISHLY satisfied that your wife cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids???? And do you neglect to be CONCERNED about her spiritual health?
I would say to those who minister in any capacity at all, how in the WORLD can you FEED the people of God while your FAMILY starves???? That's not biblical!
How much time does she have in the word or in prayer? (how much do you give her?) Would you dare console her not to worry too much about all that but then get angry about her not cleaning or being prepared for something? (yes i've been guilty of such wickedness)!
What's the LAST good book (full of doctrine) she read? When?
What's the last good sermon she heard? When?
When's the last time she's been encouraged to pursue holiness (Christ-centered fellowship)?
When's the last time she was rebuked (healthy conviction) by a friend?
In other words what do you get, what could you NOT even imagine doing WITHOUT that SHE doesn't get??
I've only mentioned what good she has received, not even mentioning what garbage, what bad influences, what discouragements is she being exposed to.
THis has been much on my thoughts even in looking for a church home, that I must not look at where i can be used, or look for a bunch of guys that i'll like, but as a leader of my home i must be concerned that my wife will also have the opportunity to be nourished: indeed there are churches that have such a 'godly men, godly leaders' focus that they don't even attempt to teach the women, it's more like 'you women go do stuff girls do, while we men learn and talk about God'.

HOMESCHOOLING??? THen this must be even MORE magnified. Let's face it, MOST (not all) homeschool parents are really (as Paul Washer says) the Woman homeschooling and the fathers taking credit for it. SO with that said: HOW CAN a MALNOURISHED mother FEED her children, how can she biblically effect the MINDS and CHARACTER of her children??? Homeschooling is not a form of quarantine, rebellion is within the child, there must be a LOT more than just shielding them from 'bad' kids and 'secular' education. I fear that the only effect (apart from God doing a miracle IN SPITE of their influence) will be kids who are little pharisees, they'll be masters of pointing our sin in others, they will be able to spot heretics and will in turn make many MORE despise Christianity because they will be mean-spirited law-keeping brats!
For children to have a CHRISTIAN worldview they need to be taught it, by someone who also has a CHRISTIAN worldview and this worldview comes ONLY through RENEWING OUR MINDS in the WORD of God.
Let us be diligent to assume to the role of 'priests' in our homes, let us take greater care to the spiritual health of our wives!

Without holiness?

Personal sanctification, personal holiness: the very end of the good things God works out for His children- to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Not too long ago i was listening to Albert Martin in his adoption series and twice he repeated something i believe he has a good finger on-- He said (with force) how sick and tired he was of reformed people who only wanted to hear gospel indicatives (what I am in Christ, what God has done, my assurance) but not gospel imperatives (commands and prohibitions).
Indeed there has been an incredible over-reaction to legalistic teaching or shaky holiness preaching: the likes of Ravenhill and Tozer, although Godly and incredibly used of God could definitely border condemnation in some things they taught.
Let me make this clear, i am now writing to those who have a FIRM grasp on the LOVE of God and the GRACE of God and who WITHOUT a DOUBT grasp that we DON'T earn God's love, that HIS LOVE IS CONSTANT to His children.
With that said, let me now speak very bluntly and i would caution you to NOT hide behind a unbalanced over-emphasis of a doctrine you like to think about more. Indeed i will say this rather BOLDLY and i fully suspect what i say will sound PROPHETIC and i'll tell you why, because I'm speaking from first-hand experience in fact i'm rebuking myself!
Although this is probably true of every generation, it seems there is so much de-emphasis on holiness today that it's sickening, in fact it's bordering heresy. I constantly hear QUICK replies to any biblical admonishment to personal holiness 'well God's grace.....' 'well God is sovereign and....'. That's not a biblical approach to holiness, that's a very CASUAL attitude towards God. We need more than ever a clear view of the majesty of God, of the Holiness of God: in short we need a biblical response to the FEAR of God, to the FEAR of Christ. There is no separation between the old and new testaments of the holiness of God, in fact contrary to popular thought the holiness and fear of God is MAGNIFIED in the TESTAMENT!!!!
WHat wickedness on our part, what sloppy living on our part-- this more than anything is what draws me to certain writers because i have in the back of mind as i read a cry, a weeping that says 'I WANT MORE!!'. I can say without hesitation that the worst feeling as a Christian is a sense of apathy, a losing of desire, nothing is worse than that! I can say that there's simply not enough desire today, and this because we are deceiving ourselves.
In the reformed camp, in my life, it's very easy to convince yourself that you don't want to be legalistic or wrongly motivated and then NEGLECT the BEST things, NEGLECT prayer, study, self-examination, avoidance of the worlds influence, because you KNOW you are saved by grace. Consequently we can get awfully close to the very purpose of the letter of JUDE; we at times in our twisting of our position in Christ can TURN THE GRACE OF GOD INTO a LICENSE to SIN!!!! Do we not tremble before God, do we NOT tremble to think of how we are representing Christ to this world, to our spouses, to our children???? Can we escape judging ourselves, can we ESCAPE the conviction of the Spirit by HIDING behind JUSTIFICATION???? Oh I pray you won't do that, I pray that I won't do that. Will you Hide behind the sovereignty of God, and get really close to BLAMING God for your sin??? Or will you fight, will you STRIVE to enter in the narrow gate (luke 13:24), will you press on (Phil 3:12), will you by violently take heaven (matt 11:120, will you make it your aim to please Him (2 cor 5:19)?
We need holiness, we need a MORE concentrated effort to take HOLD of the weapons God has provided, we MUST fight the good fight of fight. I believe it was Ravenhill who said the verse in Eph 6 we wrestle not against principalities..... would be better termed for many of us today 'we wrestle not'-- is that true? Certainly I must agree on my part that it has seemed more like a 'cruise' with some bumpy parts rather than a war!
Pride more than anything, Pride is the cause of this great malady and i would have to say that this pride is the great temptation of a good grasp of sound doctrine. It's very easy to slow down in a zeal to be like Christ once you've started to grasp some truths you've never understood and that because you have put those truths, those foundational pillars in FRONT of in PLACE of what you have KNOWN TO do. Thus in your sin, in your human logic, you have reasoned yourself into a state of compromise of complacency. WHEN IN FACT those doctrines, those GREAT truths, like the Sovereignty of God in your salvation, the perseverance of the saints- understood RIGHTLY should LEAD you to GREATER, i said GREATER humility, the essence of that HUMILITY will be a greater dependence on the work of God; which means a GREATER use of the disciplines of godly living and also a greater love for the lost, a greater zeal for the glory of God.
We have by the grace of God, not of anything we have earned or deserved, been rescued by the Love of God, from the wrath of God. God had every right to CRUSH us under His wrath, yet in our place He crushed His son, His concentrated wrath was UNLEASHED on the spotless, gentle, suffering servant, Jesus CHRIST His son. Oh how we should be driven to our knees, how sick and tired we should be of our weakness, and more than anything how angry we should be at our sinful EXCUSES.
I believe it was the Purtians, i know John Owen touches this, who spoke of NOT healing yourself too quickly when you repent. I think we do this too much, it's like we have been programmed to think that anything that doesn't bring immediate joy must not be good, must not be from God; even in the work of salvation many can't imagine someone being overcome by conviction for days,weeks, months before conversion.
For many students of the word, many ministers i think that too many are satisfied with learning, satisfied with a FORM of godliness, and not giving much attention to holy living. To doctrine much time, much energy, someone might talk till they are blue in the face about expositional preaching and the need of good theology and how we must give ourselves to reading, some will devote decades in seminaries to attain more and more info yet they will come out lifeless and dusty, IF they don't pursue GODLINESS, if they don't give attention and I would say MORE, MUCH MORE attention to their life, to their private life.
Let me end with this quote from Paul Washer: "I know of many Arminians that LIVE beyond their theology, but NOT too many Calvinists that LIVE up to theirs"
Family of God this shouldn't be so, let us with diligence pursue HIM, let us by grace display humility by SUBMITTING to GOd in ALL things, let BEG God to give us a GREAT desire, a GREAT sensitivity to what GRIEVES the Spirit, a GREATER conformity to our GLORIOUS SAVIOR Jesus Christ!!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reaching the culture?

I was listening to a 9 marks interview by Mark Dever of David Wells: At one point David explained contextualization and what 'missional' means to him.
I would make one point that what it seems he is saying is not contrary to what MacArthur says when he speaks AGAINST contextualization. I believe MacArthur attacks what people "do" and Wells is addressing the simple understanding of the word.
i might repeat something i've said before, but i see the ultimate problem as being
1.Is the bible sufficient for all things? --->then 2.Is salvation a work of God?

Without a firm grip on this, departure from biblical Christianity is inevitable, and that including the direction and faithfulness of the church.
There definitely seems to be a great stirring of people and many are young people, that desire to see churches raised up to see things changed within Christianity. The problem that i see coming out of that, is one group is reacting to some problems to apathy and the other is recognizing a biblical solution to biblical compromise.
That to say with all the talk about contextualization, being missional, relevant, reaching the post modern world: there will be a drastic divide in understanding of terms and also a drastic divide in doctrine..which leads to a divide in life.
I believe that the group of those going astray or that are heading there are those who are looking for 'methods' of how to 'do' church, of how to 'do' preaching, and no matter how much they try to balance sound doctrine with such a human-effort mindset to faithful ministry, one will give and that tends to be 'truth'.
I believe this partially because, I see many of the younger generation almost rejecting the older preachers as too archaic to offer any real help, and yet they gravitate to the bigger up and coming names who have large churches and many books, who are edgy and popular as mentors; and some of these leaders can very well be 'good' leaders but what they are admired for is wrong!
It's that old lazy and apathetic mindset that is searching for the missing 'key', that thing that will 'work' today. Rather than looking at the biblical lives and practices of men used of God, seeing how that lines up with the word of God and following in those same footsteps, in other words; searching for God in these men, the work of the Spirit, not searching to see how creative and 'out of the box' these men are.
What most are reacting against i agree with; that cold 'we've always done it this way' and lifeless doctrinal dissertations spewed out Sunday after Sunday. That hermit like 'let's just read old books, while the world burns' pride.
I believe truth should ignite, that a preacher should preach full of passion, full of love to God. I believe EVERY sermon should be full of doctrine, full of theology, and consequently full of CHRIST. I believe that preacher should be incredibly concerned that his people UNDERSTAND what he says, that the worst thing you could do in a sermon is not 'rabbit trailing', it's not preaching 'topically', it's not forgetting to close a point, but it's ASSUMING the people understand VITAL TRUTHS that they are completely CLUELESS about.
We reach the culture not by being experts but by listening, by seeking an honest state of the flock of God; what we need most to know of man, we find in the scriptures; we need less categories to place people in, because most people just don't fit in them anyways. It's simple communication that works best, you listen, you question, you respond; don't just say what you want to say (the way you want to), but say what you want people to UNDERSTAND you're saying.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CHURCH: VITAL IMPORTANCE

Today i heard a good word on the importance of the local church. Much of what i say will sound very obscure if you don't understand this importance. Of first importance as i have said before is NOT what do i want in a church, but WHAT does God desire in a church. NOT what kind of leadership do I WANT, but what kind of leadership does GOD REQUIRE these are non-negotiable issues.
Much of the problem regarding churches is based upon preference and not the bible. There are things that ARE a matter of preference that some churches have made major issues and that WRONGLY.
Worship for instance (singing), is a matter of preference: one standard which must be held is 'biblically sound' lyrics. On the one hand i understand those who like contemporary music, and i understand those who like hymns. Yet i believe it's too far when a church takes a stand on one or the other not by their preference but as though one is more righteous (this of course laying aside shallow music which can be found in any era). Hymns are no superior to contemporary music because it too was contemporary at one time, the argument will always contain flaws unless you demand that only the psalms can be sung. Simple is nice and perhaps the safest way to prevent misunderstanding; yet people are excitable and to say all excitement is sinful is of course ridiculous. As for me, if it's solid and since i know how to come to the Lord and i am truly saved there are times where i don't want to say much i just want to SHOUT, or even JUMP and i would say that's ok and even good; there are times of such tremendous bursts of joy, or delight, or praise that you get undignified! YET again these are matters of preference and should not be used to bind the people of God. There was a time in my infancy (as a Christian) that all i liked was exceptional gospel music (since that's the style of the churches i was in), i mean brilliant artists, drummers, pianists, organists, and singers. I would be frustrated and mock any church we went to where there were noticeable flaws. I was spoiled by predominately 'hypocritical' yet BRILLIANT musicians. Then i met a friend (Chris Drombetta) at work, and we begun to meet several hours before work at his apt (i would teach him some self defense stuff and he would teach me what it meant to be a Christian ---at least that's what i learned as we prayed and studied together). Anyways he was and is a brilliant musician, but before this i had no interest in non-gospel music, and he gave me a bunch of cd's to my first drive to Toledo. From then i have had to check my own heart concerning my thoughts on worship since then; It had dawned on me how God didn't look at what i looked at. That acceptable music to Him has nothing to do with style or ability but with the heart. Also that whether people stand, kneel, sit, jump, whatever doesn't make it more holy or more acceptable to God; yet God knows why they do what they do and i believe that a church should go out of it's way to MAKE THAT clear, so they don't become pridefully critical of how other churches decide to worship.
There is the local church and beyond that the world-wide church, the church that consists of every truly born-again believer. As we recognize that God's people goes far beyond our own four walls, we must also be concerned about our brothers and sisters around the world. I hope to press this further in the future but for now i would say that if you know very little about what's going on in other parts of the world, concerning our 'family', and if you aren't looking to or don't participate in supporting missions or the welfare of the church worldwide then something is really wrong! It would do your pride, your self-pity, your materialism, your fear of man, your discontent well if you would seek to be better informed of the body of Christ around the world.
In our logic of course the local body doesn't seem important, but it is absolutely crucial, it is God who has ordained such a gathering for the purpose of mutual encouragement.
The local church is the place where you should be consistently exposed to the word of God (the gospel), the place where you are consistently confronted with truth and then held accountable to that truth by loving brothers and sisters. The place where we stir one another on to NOT lose heart and to NOT be slack in doing good (with a focus on witnessing). The place where your flaws are confessed and you bear the burden with others who are struggling (A place of humbling). The place that models for families how to conduct themselves and pursue the Lord. The place where you receive rebuke to not backslide, and not slow down your pursuit of the Lord. The place where you recognize the authoritative positioning of God almighty in His kingdom, also a model for husband and wives, that although there is God ordained LEADERSHIP, there is also equality! The local church is the primary means of saving sinners, a place where the lost (SHOULD although it's NOT the norm) hear the gospel consistently. The sermon confronts the sinner in a unique way as well as the love that believers have for one another (not necessarily for them) will be another (along with the stark contrast in values and lifestyle) VISIBLE confirmation of the truths of the GOSPEL (the guarding and maintaining of these visible fruits is called CHURCH DISCIPLINE which most DON'T practice and CAN'T practice because they don't have A CLUE what their people live like).
If these ARE NOT the norm in YOUR CHURCH, if this is not what you look for or what you care about then my friend you have missed it COMPLETELY, consequently these ARE the reasons many shallow or False professors don't LIKE a HEALTHY church (yet a truly healthy church is a center of TRUTH, HUMILITY, REMEMBRANCE, and LOVE.
Please please don't take this lightly, as with my own decision to pursue another church for my family, these decisions have been made BASED upon the BIBLICAL requirements of a CHURCH not upon some internal 'spider-sense', we must base everything upon the WORD OF GOD!! Either the church is a HEALTHY BIBLICAL CHURCH or GOD has placed me here and given me the open door to effect such a change (either way it's a moving FORWARD).
I have just recently listened to a series by Albert Martin on the church's role...... In essence this wonderful shepherd is laying down the biblical grounds for why they have or have NOT done things. It's very solid and it's reveals the large heart of a man, that isn't looking to establish His own preferences but is fighting hard to stand upon the truth of God for the people of God. It's a message that should prevent a younger generation changing everything because they thought that these old fogies did what they did because they were old and senile. I beg you to listen to these fruitful messages, but i WARN YOU they may not line up with what you've always seen and been told; NEVER MIND that, test it by the word and reject the false and receive the truth!!!!
the series goes like this; The role of the church.... 1.in the Saving Purposes of God 2. in Living the Christian Life 3.in Evangelism and Missions 4.in a Call to the Ministry 5.in Ordaining Men to the Ministry pt 1 6.in Ordaining Men to the Ministry pt 2





Saturday, November 22, 2008

Praise God for the nobodies

More and more I am convinced that the best teachers are the least known ones. Yet there are some that you can't figure out how they became known, like Albert Martin. Here is a man, not know through books being published or through being popularized through major national conferences. Rather through faithful preaching of the word, a consistent stand upon the truths of scripture. A man who has not compromised throughout his ministry. Unfortunately beyond my comprehension this is not the norm of many influential leaders today, and i am speaking of those known for there biblical scholarship, that have indeed become much more lax in their thinking over time; convictions becoming weaker and some have even completely changed some views on foundational truths. Of the most known leaders, that when i think of a good example of unwavering conviction i think of John Macarthur jr. who i would call the least likely to ever more towards compromise and i truly believe that's an incredible compliment even though i don't see eye to eye on everything with him. Yet such an enduring ministry, and such consistency in preaching is rare; he's one that you're not going to find endorsing any and everything.
Back to the subject at hand, it's a terrible thing to think that some of the best preachers out there are not being sought after by the majority of churches even reformed churches. Paul Washer remarked how he never went to chapel in seminary and was questioned why by one of his professors, and his reply was that as long as the ONLY men that come to speak are men with megachurches and the faithful small church pastors are ignored, he would not come.
That's a really good point, because although we can mock the schemes of the seeker-sensitive movement, many are still as guilty of the same idolatry of numbers and educational prestige. This should not be, many of the conferences going on could be likened to a popularity contest, not a godly selection of the best teachers and preachers. Not to take away from some of these ministers (who i have intentionally not mentioned) but many sound more like business men, with their networks, connections, projections, and mastery of the culture's evolution; rather then prophets who come with a word from the Lord. When i hear of the lives and involvements of some of these 'giants' i think to myself, where do they find the time to be involved in all these projects, committees, and ministries.
I'd much rather have a small ministry that doesn't operate like a corporation, a small church where the elders really know the condition of the flock (I'm not anti-growth), yet if there was phenomenal growth i believe that's a call to bless another neighborhood with a 'solid' church plant, which is the pattern of some.
I would like to see, and i think it's right: to see more lesser known, smaller church ministers given more respect, and not burdened unnecessarily by a list of 'must-haves' when they should be encouraged to be faithful and disciplined. Of course that is why I naturally greatly anticipate the upcoming true church conference (www.anchoredintruth.org), which will contain many faithful expositors that emphasize the centrality of preaching without all the modern 'requirements'.
Well it's time to eat so i guess I'll stop now. blessings

reading a good book when....

I was just thinking, about good books, and of course my rule of thumb is to chose the most recommended of all books. As i have time I plan in the future to also read more contemporary books; yet y reading time is presently short and so i attempt to get the best i can, not just wanting something but everything!
Anyways I know and perhaps you know or you can know when you are reading a good book.
First of course I'm looking for content, i don't care much what big names recommend them, nor do i care what degrees a man has, I'm looking for good scriptural material.
Then i know if i am reading a really good book when that truth is confrontational, when there is a preaching element to it, an obvious intent to affect me spiritually.
Then (not that this is in any order) i look for a passion for the glory of Christ, a love for souls, and a zeal for holiness within the pages.
Then i know that I'm reading a really good book when it feels as though the writer has just left the closet of prayer, there is intensity and reality to every word.
Then lastly I look at each line, meaning how much do i have to read before it says anything; in other words there are times where i have the urge to highlight or photocopy something or paste something in a post and i can't find a place to start or finish, i mean that it's so good that i feel like i have to highlight everything. Preaching and preachers is one of the only contemporary books i can think of that is like that. A classic example is William Gurnalls Christian in complete armour, it's JAM PACKED full of meat and hard to pick small quotes.
Anyways a word of caution for MOST people that are not fluent readers, especially not of classic writing: don't read every book that is recommended to you, ask WHY they say it's such a good book. blessings yall!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Content, leadership, individualism

I was listening today to an interview with John MacArthur: In answering one question,
MacArthur made the point that what he had to defend when he was in school was vastly different than today's battle. Today's has to do with the 'sufficiency' of the scriptures. Not whether the bible is accurate and God-inspired, but whether it's really all we need, if it's sufficient.
True expository preaching has lost interest among many today, expository meaning 'to explain'. Of course there are a lot of churches that, even whole denominations like Calvary Chapels' that teach verse by verse thru the scriptures, yet to listen to many people that claim to do this it becomes immediately obvious that's NOT what they are doing. It's not hard to go through a whole book and not REALLY explain it, but use each verse as a starter for a sermon on something different (this i have seen so many times).
Expository preaching demands CONTENT, it demands MEAT!!! Now I FOR ONE am bored to tears by good doctrine that comes from a dead heart, there should be FIRE coming forth, blazing each TRUTH. I believe in VISIBLE passion (which definitely looks different in different types of people). Yet I'm also equally sick and TIRED of sermons full of SMOKE, full of emotional excitement and shooting out the same 10 unrelated memorized verses for every message.
Conrad Mbewe at the trueChurch conf two years ago, answered to the question 'what's the difference between preaching the text and preaching your thoughts' "Well if you just give people your thoughts then they will leave thinking about you, and if you preach the word then they will be thinking of Christ (the word)".
In other words: CONTENT, SUBSTANCE, something to feed on, something to chew; rather than a quick dessert, sweet and FLUFFY.
I believe more than ever that what ails the church is hyper-individualism, which has much to do with the SUFFICIENCY of Scripture. Which in turn has affected many peoples view towards the role of the church and the role of leaders. Churches are no longer looked at as places of instruction, but places of activity. Many churches resemble country clubs (not like I've been to one of those), or YMCA's and in turn the Leaders are more like activity directors, not teachers of the word.
This has been much on my mind and i plan to post more later, but i wonder what most people would respond to the question 'why do you go to church?' or 'what do you look for in a church?' unfortunately I bet the answer for the mos part will be unscriptural. Strip a church of everything that it doesn't need, or better yet in a viciously persecuted land what could they NOT do without? 1.BELIEVERS 2.LEADERS TO TEACH THE WORD: it's NOT just a gathering, but a gathering that is also ADMINISTERED by SHEPHERDS, would you question that? Consider than what Ephesians says are GIFTS to the CHURCH from CHRIST; BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP (MEN OF ONE BOOK).
So if people don't go to be fed the word then what else do they go for? routine (we've always gone to church here), comfort (not too convicting), community (i get along with these people, they accept me), significance (i get to be "involved" in something), freedom (no one bothers me here, only God can judge me), peace and security (i always feel better after a service) and the list could go on, but the point is 'what does GOd have to say about the church?'
The problem is that the whole purpose of Christ giving gifts to the church, the whole purpose for Paul writing to the churches would all be for nothing if we ALL didn't need consistent sound preaching. Preaching is a unique means of God that confronts believers and unbelievers alike for the benefit of their souls. A great many don't even notice that they are missing something, they don't demand better because they have never been exposed to it or they don't care. Yet when they here good preaching they think 'wow this person is a uniquely gifted man of God' when in fact, they aren't unique it's just that they are truly called and qualified for the office whereas many would bless their churches by stepping down and doing something else.
Activity has consumed the modern church, and their are countless people who never get fed the pure milk of Gog, because they are so busy filling all the so-called needs in the church. Men, women, and children were more equipped with truth, and more distinct from the world, when the church didn't have all these needless ministries. For all our gadgets, all our technology, and all our make-believe 'ministries' we are no better, we're only seeing each generation becoming weaker and weaker.
TOO many authorities has also PLAGUED the church and has added to this individualism. I mean all the para-church ministries and even the Christian music world. Here you have all these ministries and the worst of them have no clear intention to preach the gospel regularly, but operate as good-works clubs or cleaned-up versions of any and all worldly amusements. Yet they have created such a mindset that 'you don't need the church, you don't need that type of accountability'. So what happens is that some guy or gal, starts some thing (coffee shop, clothing line, holy hockey club, God-golf, Christ-Chess ministry, Christian video gamers, etc....) but seriously even missions should be church based: well the leader (president or ceo) then goes around speaking in pulpits and conferences and people begin to look at these people like pastors. They become their own authority, and they have decided to put themselves in that position. This can also apply to musicians (why you should be aware and beware who your children listen to---even CHRISTIANS) because too many have incredibly WEAK theology, but they often speak like they have really studied the scriptures and their fans buy into it. I could also include all the storytellers out there, who have an amazing gift to write; yet who rather than tell stories, use their gifts to promote water-downed, sprinkled with scripture fairy tales and people are buying it, they eat this junk food and then their appetite is SPOILED (not liking tough meat).
Even EVANGELISTS, the majority of faithful evangelists (even those who had little education, which doesn't mean they did not know the word) the one's who have stood the test of time in REAL FRUITFULNESS are FIRST theologians then SOULWINNNERS. Yet today when you hear evangelist, most immediately picture a Billy Graham crusade: that my friend is weaker in content then most children's Sunday schools-please be slow to disagree on this one because Billy has "on the record" said countless statements that are embarrassing to repeat (heretical statements, compromising statements). I suppose these examples and many more could be accredited for the attitude of many within the church today.
It would be my desire that more people would start asking the right questions, and searching the scriptures for the right answers. It would be my desire that many leaders examine what they do in church and why they do it, and also for them to take an inventory of all the 'busy' underfed people in their church and ensure they get to be under the teaching of the word.
Teens especially; all the churches that weren't small and had much activity going on, always had teens involved and without exception the teens that volunteered the most, were the teens that needed to be under the teaching of the word the most; yet this is exactly what happens when activity becomes supreme, when the need to fill spots becomes more important than the need to feed the sheep.
Peter was told to feed the sheep, the great commission is about "teaching them everything..", their must be a concern for CONTENT, their must be a cry going forth 'we WANT MEAT'.
Now that's an idea, maybe i'll start a protest, and we'll make signs like 'WE WANT MEAT' 'NO MORE BREASTMILK' 'NO MORE GOOFS, GIVE US THE TRUTH' and we'll stand on the church corners of America on SUNDAY morning!!!!!!!!!!!
Yet i have seen and heard many comment of such an uproar of men, that are begging God for such teachers, men and women desperate for truth and devouring it where-ever they can find it, i pray in the years to come we'll see a remarkable number of solid Christ-centered PREACHING churches established by such men (may i be counted worthy to be a part of that).

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