Monday, September 29, 2008

Careless communion

The most neglected passage scripture of all time! COMMUNION!!!!!!!!!
I Corinthians 11:27-34
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Even among the 'reformed', even among those who would stress 'regeneration and it's fruits' seem prone to ignore this warning. I am reminded of this every single time communion is served. I'm reminded of this every time you see every child, teen, and adult partake in this communion. I'm fearfully reminded by the carelessness of parents who can't possibly believe these scriptures when they allow their children to partake of communion even when they would be slow to say that they are saved. How much more of a warning do you NEED? This is CHILD ABUSE, for the minister who oversees this ordinance it's PASTORAL NEGLECT!
You MUST warn EVERY single time, because it's a solemn ordinance. To take out the fear in communion, takes away it's value and uniqueness. WHO'S to blame? The minister if he doesn't warn (not just a brief mention but a forceful warning). The individual if he doesn't care, and also the parent if he/she (especially the father) doesn't use his authority to withhold or allow it.
LET ME BREAK FOR A MOMENT: If you even have the slightest thought that what i am saying is to harsh, then read over once again those scriptures, to the biblically illiterate it would seem that these verses should be from the Old Testament-consider Aaron's sons! To think that is plain HYPOCRISY, never would you apply those thoughts the laws of nature! For instance if you saw a child starting to climb a rail that overlooked a 100ft cliff, and the parent came strolling over saying 'Oh, Johnny, you need to be careful, come on let's go' you'd immediately think or say "hey lady are you crazy, you child could have died and you treated it like he was climbing a chair?".
Please i beg you read and re read these scriptures and apply them to your family and to your flock. Warn the lost (unchurched) and even warn greater the naive church attender or Parent of a lost child that this is a most solemn ordinance that must not be taken lightly-- and then watch how the flock responds. If you start to see the elements being passed then praise the Lord, but if 'everyone' still takes it, CRY OUT for the LORD not to KILL them!

Creative Salvation

Acts 17:25-27
25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

I was just thinking about this thought, and i wanted to throw it out there, I hope it's not weird or heretical. Surely all of us have asked why me? Yet beyond that have you ever just looked back over you life, specifically the days of your unbelief, when you weren't saved? Ever looked back and been reminded of the many times God revealed Himself in small ways, perhaps times you were confronted by the gospel. Something you once said or heard as a child that you suddenly remembered. Even people that I know as well as myself have at first thought "nope nothing, never heard the gospel never this never that" and then one day you are reminded more of more of God's goodness to you while you were dead in sins. You might be reminded of some close calls with death that left you thinking "how did i get out of that, how did i live through that?", Maybe you look back thinking 'what stopped me from going this route of sin..'
All this to point out God's creative act in saving us, what i mean is that no testimony is the same, yes the same workings of the Spirit, by grace alone, through Christ alone but indeed it was unique. Why? I'm speculating here but it could very well be true, that God so ordained our salvation to be unique because He wants us to see how personal He is, how intimate His workings are. It's more narrow than 'God saves sinners' or 'God has saved a people', but even better 'God has saved me' "He looked upon me, He kept me, He restrained Me, He humbled me, He adopted me! Christ redeemed each one of us specifically,we aren't a group, we aren't numbers, we are children of His. Like children we each have a birthdate, we each have memorable 'firsts' ahhhhh what a thought, He is our father and he knows the very hairs of our head. God bless

To see if we'd love Him?

It is often deduced that the reason why God made us and consequently we differ in that we have a free will, to see if we would really love Him. I'm reminded of this because I was meeting with a young man who showed remarkable fruit and growth as a new believer. This young man, named Daniel had made a comment that prompted me to ask this question and expecting him to say this. I was thinking "i remember when this is exactly what i thought and would say" for one it sounded really touchy feely, it kinda made you feel sorry for God and want to cheer Him up.
For one to use the phrase "God wanted to see......" is borderline blasphemy, He is all knowing let alone fully Sovereign.
We must also keep in mind that salvation, the cross, was never plan B; surely to start reading from Genesis we might think that, but later God decides to let us see a fuller picture one of pure orchestration. (another time for that...)
A truth that must be forefront is that every good gift comes from God. That goodness, love, and all that are attributes of God. God defines these words, ok so why is that important- Well it's good to understand that the only 'good' there can be is from God (God is the Source of these things). So we can't even "love" God, or value Him unless God moves in us, unless He enables us to experience any of His attributes. In like manner this is why sin is so crucial, it's an direct attack, a direct antagonist to who God is-Sin is anti-God.
An even easier way to explain this is Heaven!!! What? Yes, i was chewing on these thoughts at work today and it seemed really obvious how we forget about our future place in heaven. In heaven we will be glorifed, we will actually be perfect, we will not be "able" to sin, YET we will be 'full' of love towards God. So to say unless we have an absolutely free will we can't love God leads us to logically conclude that the love in heaven will be false!
Free will? Yes free to act according to our 'nature', glory to God that He changes that nature and ultimately rids it of everything contrary so that we may one day be able to love, worship, serve and enjoy Him the way He deserves. May these thoughts bless you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Isaiah 66

I recently taught on this and just wanted to throw out some thoughts for others to chew on. A great passage for saved and lost alike.
Isaiah 66:1-3
1 This is what the LORD says:"Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. 3 But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man,and whoever offers a lamb,like one who breaks a dog's neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig's blood,and whoever burns memorial incense,like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways,and their souls delight in their abominations;
Ok so let's break this down (partly). The Lord makes some really important foundational statements about Himself and throws out some questions that should make us pause. If we can grasp the truths taught here, we will guard ourselves from a lot of confusion, heartache, and discouragement.
God tells us how things really are; He's saying that He rules over all things and that He has created all things. He asks us to consider then, what in the world we could give Him. The only one who could truly say 'I'm self-sufficient" is God, He alone cares for Himself, He alone sustains Himself. More than that He alone is self-satisfied, (just consider the gazillions of yrs that God existed before He created man-He was and is satisfied with himself).
Ok so what can you give the one who has everything? hmmmmm NOTHING! absolutely NOTHING, and that's even more complicated when you consider our position as rebels against a mighty King, not only have we nothing to give but we have a lot we OWE!
So God was pleased to redeem a chosen people, to call out a people to make His own from every nation and tribe, apart from what we are and deserve this God saves. \
The thing we must never forget is Who God is and what we are, don't lose sight of that! So God says the one that catches my eye, the one who i look at with pleasure i the one who sees this (Who I am and Who they are).
The Sinner is humble and broken, that's what happens first in Salvation. I see my sins, and seeing them brings me to the reality that i'm hopeless and that i need a savior. Never forget this though, understanding is not humility, true humility is not about how you phrase sentences ("to God be the glory") it's not keeping your head low and speaking in a quiet voice. True humility is dependence on God- which is seen by the practical reliance on God everyday. A humble man is a man of prayer, a man of the word, a man of true fellowship-- a man who not only confesses his faults but believes God for strength and wisdom, then clings to Him! For instance a man could confess his weaknesses and you think to yourself 'wow this guy is really humble' (and that could be the case) but if you see him a year from now and he's still just confessing (no fruit, no resolve to believe God) then he's most likely using confession as an excuse to not do anything (so his seemingly humble confession, is really saying "look i'm nothing, i'm weak, and that's all i'm gonna be, I just 't change, i just can't trust God, i quit, but bless God cause i'm just a sinner saved by grace)-- that's not humility! So in salvation and sanctification (holy living) I see my sin, my weakness, my crime, and i abandon myself to God, I cast myself upon Him, I cling to Him for hope and strength, I deny self and pursue Him! At the same time I'm also contrite (broken) over my sins, now that i see God for who He is, my feeling towards Him change, now I'm convicted in that I've sinned against great love, against the Savior of my soul. I see Jesus as the one receiving what I deserved and I'm crushed. The true believer is a mourner over his sins, primarily because he knows God is His father. The true believer doesn't want to just get away with sin, he hates his sin, even the sins he commits frequently crush him over and over again. In fact the mark, one of the most distinguishing attitudes of the FALSE believer is that he TURNS the GRACE of GOD in LICENSE, he sees grace as an unlimited, unconditional guarantee that will allow him to live however he wants and still get to heaven; this is primarily why some (and I used to) react to this mentality and say 'well then you will lose your salvation, because you can't just live in unrepentant, habitual sin and think God will receive you" to one part we would say amen. The fact is, they don't lose their salvation from living in continuous sin with this 'who cares, i have fire insurance' attitude, they only SHOW that they were NEVER saved in the first place-1 John 2:19.
In a nutshell i'm convinced of need and convicted of sin (I now really see me for who i am and what i've done-because I now see God for who He is and what He has done). THEN: I also tremble at His word.
What does that mean? Well it means i approach the word with fear, I handle it carefully, i listen to it carefully, i value it, i test things by it, and i submit to it (this and so much more could be said). We are too quick to read something the way we want it to be said, we are too quick to make the scriptures comfortable; BEWARE OF THIS, let the scriptures SPEAK! We are too quick to offer advice, when we're not sure if we are right; "well i'm sure God doesn't mind.........., God doesn't mean what it sounds like God probably means........., Well my dad always said.....etc etc" Let us be a lot quicker to say "i don't know". There is safety for every minister and everyone that ever gives counsel, and that safety and peace is found in the word. That you don't need to be creative, intelligent, just biblical; they don't need YOUR counsel, they have been led to you because they NEED HIS counsel. Keep in mind that some people don't want to hear godly counsel (they already know what God says and they are looking for someone in authority to ok their rebellion) in this type of case don't let someone push you past scripture, you might to say what i've had to say "Look, I've given you the answer, I've told you what God says about this matter, and it seems like you want me to go further than that, I can't do that and I won't do that, the question is 'will you obey God?' "
Biblical sceptics (Bereans), never stop asking this question, no matter who the preacher is, what book your reading, no matter how acceptable it is in culture, no matter how nice or smart i sounds; "God? is this true?"
Even people that have poured into your life, people that may live blameless lives, people that have sacrificed greatly for you, even their counsel must be weighed against scripture. You stop growing, when you stop asking questions; I really believe the truths that are most precious to you are the ones that you personally wrestled with, not just something someone taught you.
Finally what in the world does this list about animals have to do with what's been said?
Well here the Lord picks out common and acceptable things and says that He will look at them as if they were the most vile and wicked things ever done. WHY? Well he just finished explaining how he didn't need anything, and that there's nothing we can add to Him, Yet He wants us. He specifically wants our hearts, our wills: God wants true worship from truly humble and broken hearts. Keep in mind that God has already been confronting this in Isaiah throughout (read Is 1:11-19, 29:13, 58:2-6). So what is worship when it's not done from obedience? It's a substitute! What is a substitute then for obedience? A BRIBE!
I used to use this analogy a lot when I used preach to the girls in the juvenile jail "imagine you're married, and your husband comes home with a handful of flowers and some bling (diamonds), and you're like "oh my, this is so unlike you, you shouldn't have, how romantic, thank you so much i love you" and then this guy kinda shrugs his shoulders, bows his head and says "well, um, you see i just want you to know that... well it's like this, um remember how i've been doing all that overtime lately, well um i really haven't been. I kinda been seeing your friend Lisa.. but it's noting serious i don't love her, i love you and i wanted to show it.." WELL??????? What cha gonna do? You'll probably throw those gifts at him (the flowers and the vase!!) and those things that just made you extremely happy will now make you extremely angry because you now realize that they were only substitutes for loving commitment- they are nothing but dirty bribes. Times that evil by millions and you might come close to what an offering to God is without obedience. God won't be bought, His grace is undeserved and those who would try to buy it or try to substitute what Jesus Christ did on the cross (and the surrender it demands) with gifts are an absolute abomination to God. This would include, church attendance, baptism, missions trips, charity, tithes, teaching and a whole lot of other things. 1 Cor 13:3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.
We must come in His way, through His grace, receiving His love and pursuing His glory. Let us worship in Spirit and Truth! Motivated by love, compelled by grace, we seek to please Him!

reality check 2007

this is Jono Sims from the Reality Check 2007 conference --a have a link to Jeff Noblit where you could order this set (i have it and love it).

Good stuff! Yes i'd like to expose people from time to time to really good preaching!

Witness like this?

Try this out, no but really this makes an incredible point to what God does in the heart of a TRUE believer!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Discipleship Conf pt3 Springfield, IL 2008

A little slow blogging this:
This session featured Paul Washer Text: Mt 7:13- and Mk 1:14,15

He stated Mark 1:15 would be worded today "the kingdom of God is at hand, now ask Jesus in your heart"

He mentioned the weakness of today's preaching, and that discipleship comes primarily through sound preaching- "late 70's, early 80's was a time of major emphasis on 'personal discipleship' because of the mass amounts of people filling the churches, then leaving the churches"

Repent and believe in the gospel; "present tense imperative, meaning if you have truly repented then you will continue to repent"

True repentance at it's core is "a change of mind with regards to reality"
'the lost man is wrong about EVERYTHING because he's wrong about God", That's "the first reality that comes to a lost man."

In salvation "a man is shattered of idolatry, brought to absolute despair but not left there, in his brokenness he finds real joy because he stops looking at self."

Blessed are the meek---->"who are the meek, Ps 37:11, which is defined by verses 1-10

Mt 7 "the false teacher is marked by the fruit he bears and the gospel he preaches"

2 TIm 4:1- "false teachers ARE God's judgment ON people who don't want the truth, they aren't victims" ouch! What a thought, i think we are too quick to excuse those under false teaching as well as false teachers ignoring much of what the scriptures and the apostles had to say about them

Paul Washer emphasized how God disciplines his children, he won't allow them to just live in sin. He gave this example "say i was the pastor coming home late from a conference and i noticed your 13yr old daughter hanging out in a crowd on a corner, well i wouldn't go to your daughter, i'd go to your house and then i'd rebuke you for being a derelict father who's letting his child run wild, now if that's a perfectly acceptable response. Then to say God has children that He can't control or won't discipline is to say that God is a derelict father (hinting at the false 'carnal' Christian teaching).

He remarked to the absurdity of explaining "a bad tree cannot produce good works" means that a lost man can do nothing, absolutely nothing to gain God's favor, it has to be grace, a lost man is dead in sin he CAN't do good AND YET when it comes to explaining "a good tree cannot, produce bad fruit" a completely different interpretation (hermeneutic) to explain that one (again destroying the ridiculous notion of a 3rd category of man; the carnal Christian).

He made the remark of 3 major problems in interpretation;
1. Looking for a key to prophecy that ignores how Jesus and the apostles presented it, and/or how they understood it
2. Taking verses that speak of a reality (a state) as promises
3. Allegorizing scripture into poetry, just beautiful ways of saying things, but surely cannot mean what it seems to mean.

Well that's about the gist of it---God bless

Friday, September 26, 2008

Worse than rejection

There are bible verses that should stand out to all who preach the gospel, there are ones always to keep in mind; and there are ones that you can't get off you're mind.
For me, there is a portion of scripture that is ever before my face, ever before my thoughts, and ever before my eyes. I have many times before saying anything, first laying this scripture before my hearers as a foundation.
The passage can be found in Ezekiel 33: 30 "As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.' 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. 33 "When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
This is a sobering piece of scripture, there are times when no matter what you preach even what may considered hard preaching, you will find those who enjoy it, but won't obey it. If you have ever lived in hypocrisy then you certainly know this from experience, living for thoughts of men. I'd much rather have men viciously oppose me then to shake my hand tell me thanks and yet they are still dead in sins. We live in such a time where many long for hard preaching and some only because it gives them a 'back in the day' feel, a taste of the classic, an emotional experience like that of a movie. How scary is that! Never never preacher be satisfied with the praises of men, never seek their approval, never let them sway your preaching, never let them take the edge off because you have been hypnotized into thinking everything is fine with them. I mean no one could like the puritans and be lost, no one could like Spurgeon and be lost, no one could like Calvin and be lost right? WRONG!!!! These men knew it and we must not forget it, don't let those 'amens' move you. Some in the name of tolerance, enjoy our intensity of 'faith', our sincerity, our passion, our determination, as if they were something of themselves. Preach the same and counsel the same to the man that gives you lip service, as the one who openly rejects you. Don't forget the two sons, Jesus said one said no then later did it, the other said yes sir but didn't do; which obeyed? the first! I really like something Paul Washer said concerning the praise of men 'preacher, the minute you believe you're as good as people tell you, you've become useless' (close to what he said).
That's why it's so crucial to look and wait for lasting fruit, don't be so quick to accept what you see and hear.
I've also used this to explain how i will preach, i might say something like this "I'm here for souls, whatever be the reason you think you are here is unimportant, i know that you will spend eternity somewhere. The only way i can help you is by giving you truth, truth you might be ignoring. There's nothing worse then to think that you are OK with God when you're not, and so i will be trying to confront those who might be deceived. I'd rather you hate me now and get saved one day, then pat me on the back and love me, yet die in your sins and go to hell! Don't think it'll do you good to pretend, there's no profit in trying to convince me, in fact if you aren't serving Christ, which means you don't love Him then i certainly don't want you to love or honor me more then Him, but there will be a day if you refuse to repent and believe in Christ that the words i have spoken will be added as judgment against you." A solemn passage of scripture indeed, let's strive to make sure this is due to the deception of the lost man's heart and not to our easy-going watered down sermons, afford the lost no comfort.

The rich young ruler

Probably one of my favorite passages to teach from, due to the clearness of the message.

Mk 10:17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 18And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19"You know the commandments, 'DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'" 20And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!" 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" 27Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."
Ok so imagine you are just watching from a distance, what's going through your head as this interaction takes place. I guess the disciples are pretty impressed at first: they see this dude get on his knees and asks 'how can i get in heaven?" What an open door right? What humility, what readiness for salvation right? WRONG!! Let all ministers pay close attention to what it 'looks' like when someone is serious about the gospel. A characteristic of the doctrinally sound evangelists throughout history is that they were fruit searchers, soul doctors indeed. How would this have been approached in our day, in the majority of churches and by the majority of Christians "well brother just pray this prayer after me, and PRESTO you're in! C-YA". Not Jesus though, He sees a lot deeper then we do, this great God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Consider again, right in front of EVERYBODY, in the dirt, a rich man kneels before Jesus, seeking 'heaven' (how deceiving and worthless are ALL attempts of worship apart from salvation) I often tell people, don't waste time praying to God if you think you can pull one over on Him; you'll be speaking to a dial tone.
What about the 'no one is good..." reply, Well Jesus is challenging this man's understanding of good (by who's standard, by what comparison) and it seems He leaves it hanging, but that's not how it is, Jesus explains this statement throughout the whole interaction.
So Jesus uses the law, the law that was put there to reveal our sins, to condemn us, to point us to Christ. How? By such a standard, that would leave all men hopeless that ever tried to keep it. The law rightly applied shatters all hope of saving yourself, thus you NEED a SAVIOR.
The young man hears the law, specifically that which deals with man (perhaps not exclusively important), yet the young man, apparently suffering a severe case of amnesia replies "yep, got all that down since i was young" it was like he was saying "psssst that's it? then i'm definitely in, i guess that's what i was expecting to hear" but Jesus loved him (you know that hard love better termed; TRUTH) and was like "ok dude, so you think you're flawless and selfless, then ok give it all up, give up NOW all your vain treasures for the real treasure, ME!" i can just imagine the rich young ruler scanning the young disciples and thinking, "so you want me to give prestige, power, fame, influence, the ladies, my Versace suits to live and look like beach bum, no dice pal!" Yet there's more than a shrug off, there's more than just an adamant refusal. The young man, comes to a terrifying reality, the god he serves is NOT Yahweh, it's himself and what's worse is that now he knows that compared to Christ, compared to eternal life, he'd much rather have himself. So he leaves 'sorrowful': he leaves with the sorrow of the world, the sorrow which all men will one day regret. Yet there's a sorrow that leads to repentance, a sorrow that is produced by the Holy Spirit as it convinces you of your hopelessness and the immensity of your crimes against God alone and the hell you deserve, while at the same time Christ is in full view, Christ's sacrifice intensifies this sorrow and moves you to throw yourself upon His grace (and grace you will receive). What a fool, trading the eternal for the temporal, trading something men use to attain joy,hope, and peace for the embodiment of Joy, Hope, and Peace.
This man serves as fearful reminder that many are truly sorry, sorry that they much rather love their sins; hell will be full of sorry people. Perhaps he shed tears, yet he walked away!
What doesn't Jesus do? Jesus doesn't run after him saying "alright how about just accept me as savior now and then you can make the Lord decision later?, Wait, Wait, how about if i tell you how i can heal you, help you have a nice family, i'm really funny you know, like football? we got big screens for the super bowl" No NO NO. Jesus knew immediately that this man came with false motives and He exposed them.
Jesus remarks how impossible it is for the rich to enter heaven (was this like saying He didn't come for the righteous? Is this a way of saying those who think they have no need? those opposite to the 'poor in spirit'?-perhaps). Were the disciples blond? :) They respond "dude, like, rich man no pearly gates then everyone else is a total goner, bummer!" (perhaps they were reading Kenneth Copeland or Big Jakes thinking that '$uce$$ is a given to the truly blessed'-- they would have told him to pray a prayer and buy them an extra jet-airplane)
Jesus remarks 'it's IMPOSSIBLE for people, but for God all things are possible' ---I always heard that quoted for prayer, as if that's what He was talking about. Nope! In reference to what? The subject of the conversation; ETERNAL LIFE! Man is TOTALLY depraved, he can do NOTHING to gain God's favor it must be grace. Salvation is no jumpstart, not a boost, not therapy, not a crutch , it's a SUPERNATURAL work of GOD, A CREATIVE act of God, a DIVINE transformation, it's a BIRTH of something not there, this work of God: this regeneration, this conversion, this salvation is a work which God alone accomplishes and God alone carries out to the end. Repent and believe the gospel! Turn from your wicked ways and thoughts and turn to God. Do you see your wickedness, your rightful place in hell, your absolute fault (no excuses), and now can you see Christ, can you see that He alone can save, Can you see that He alone can forgive you and make you right before God, because He was punished for your sins under the full wrath of God, making it possible to forgive the wicked? Then look to Jesus, cry out for mercy OR will you also shrug your shoulders, or drop your head in shame still intent (stubbornly) on living for self and this world?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A poem: Isn't He beautiful

A poem i wrote a while back, hope it stirs you!

Isn’t He beautiful?
Oh what a question, is Christ beautiful? Surely He is, beyond description, yet this must be asked to many who act as though He is not.
It is sad to see many using gimmicks, and ‘bait’ that cover up Christ, that mask His truth and His work. Oh if men only believed that He is beautiful than they would share Christ more fully, they wouldn’t need the world in order to reach the world. Is He beautiful? Surely He is!
What is the beauty of holiness but His divinity meeting our depravity? That Christ gave hope to the hopeless, life to the dead (in sin), friendship to the enemies of God, righteousness to the unrighteous, love to the unlovable “His banner over me is love”. In this, we may truly worship in the beauty of holiness, that even while we were still sinners Christ died for the ungodly! What beauty, what grace which can only be understood with a clear view of the destitute, blind, wicked and deceived state of all men contrasted against the Holy righteous God who bought us with a price! Isn’t He lovely? Altogether! Isn’t He beautiful? Infinitely!
David saw His beauty in his unfathomable inquiry of His great grace “what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him?” Oh we are nothing but worms yet Christ has given worth to worthless such creatures as us! Look and consider Him and you to will see how beautiful He is.
Asaph saw His beauty “Whom have I in heaven but you and none on earth do I desire but you…” Is this the cry of popular preaching today? Oh what blind guides who have missed the Son and His beauty. They believe He needs help, needs a makeover, needs to be hidden for a later time, they deny His beauty. They draw men with toy flashlights instead of pointing to the glory of the sun. Isn’t He beautiful? Surely He is.
Can it be that we honor those who burned so brightly for His glory, those who searched for Him as hidden treasure, because we won’t do the same. Surely the vine is just as vibrant just as nourishing, if only we would abide. Where can greater joy be found then in His presence, greater security then in contemplation of His grace, greater warmth then in His love? Nowhere! Yet how many substitutes, how many distractions, how little we take advantage of the torn veil to His chambers. Isn’t He beautiful? Surely He is.
Oh how quick we shrink, yet praise be to God He gives more grace. Do you lack desire then ask it of Him, do you lack zeal then come to Christ and he will give it, come boldly beloved to His throne of grace for your need will be met.
Moses sought to see God’s glory and yet we can see much more in Christ let’s fix our eyes upon Jesus. His beauty has to be seen for that is the hope of the believer to see Jesus. Child, teen, and adult will be drawn, and saved and satisfied only when they see that pearl of great price for who He is and can say with David:
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Discipleship Conf pt2 Springfield, IL 2008

This is the first session we were able to attend.
Speaker: Pastor Curt Daniels Title: take up your cross Text: Mark 8:34
Ok i will try to jot down some interesting points he made.
First he explained that the cross, it's not some sickness you have, not stigmatas, not some problem you're going through. He first let the text explain it "denying self" and "following Christ"
He stated this "Jesus was carrying His cross from eternity past."
He stressed the word 'willing', so may never have to pay what others have paid in order to follow Christ, but a true believer is made 'willing' to do so. "willing to die, willing to live @ any cost"
-"there are false martyrs (those who say they are willing but haven't counted the cost) the disciples were lying when they said they would die with Jesus before denying Him."
Proof? "Are you living for Him?, if not you won't die for Him."
Considering Simon of Cyrene (who carried the cross), he was "compelled"
"The Lord SOVEREIGNLY compels us (lays the cross on us), and we WILLING (responsibility) carry it."
MORTIFICATION: "Jesus doesn't say deny "things" (like say a catholic giving up bubblegum during lent) but to deny yourself."

GAL 5:24 "A man can do a lot of things to himself, but he can't crucify himself" "It's not something you do, it's something you submit to (God).
He quoted Thomas Boston "God had only one Son without sin, but no sons without a cross"

2 Tim 2:11 ...If we died with him, we will also live with him.
he referenced how he spent time in the military and that his father fought in war. he spoke that there are times when you are surrounded by your enemies and all hope is gone of victory; so what you do is resolve among your fellow soldiers that you will fight to the death. Pastor Curt explained how in those times remarkable acts of heroism are often committed at those times, WHY? because you are fighting as though you were already dead (with much courage).

For this to happen there must be a governing principle that would motivate us, Pastor Curt ended by stressing that "the love of Christ is the greater overcoming principle that God interjects within us-and to see this leads to our willing submission."

Throughout the message he called many to examine themselves and test themselves to see whether such fruit, such desires were theirs.--- Truly a blessed service, doctrinal, passionate and confrontational yet with tenderness.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh so you're just a 'stay at home mom' or a housewife

Ever heard such things; you know there are somethings that are expected outside the church and things like this that shouldn't ever be heard within the church.
What a worldview many have today, that interprets it's values, standards and norms by ignoring history and manipulating scripture to fit our times.
Let me set the record straight, if this is you, then your calling should be the most coveted! For it is a high calling from the Lord, a fulfillment of what God has called a wife and mother to be, it's a step of faith, and for the financially challenged a leap of faith in absolute contrast to the culture.
Yet it's a battle, it's a battle not to boast as though it's credit to yourself, and it's a battle to not just conform to what everyone says is needed.
Press on dear woman, and seek first His kingdom, focus on doing all things as unto the Lord. Never forget that His love towards you is not based on performance, and your service to Him is not necessarily what you do but how and why you do it. God didn't redeem a nation of workers, a nation of soul-winners, a nation of busy ministers, no you are saved for Him, for the enjoyment of God; an invalid can still glorify the Lord (yet before the eyes of people he's useless).
There are people you will bless and encourage, just by the way you speak to your husband, just by the way you live, just by the way you react to your children: these are often more lasting impressions then some Jane-of-all-trades who leads the S.S classes, holds five bible studies for women at home and writes articles for the focus on the family. I'm sorry but that's not the high calling of biblical womanhood, you're not on HOLD if you have children, you're not LIMITED by not being involved in every activity, although you should take time to encourage other women (including teens) in the things you know they won't hear often and isn't valued often.
You are creating a haven, you have been given an opportunity to give yourself to the ministry of prayer, and if you have children then you have been blessed with a stewardship.
Never forget that they are His children and that He knows best. Proverbs states that child left to himself will bring his mother to shame. Your comfort is not your goal, decorating, sewing, and gardening is not what's important. You must give yourself to pruning that child, teaching him/her the fear of the Lord. This is more than homeschooling, this is by example. A child must realize that you do what you do because of what God has done in you. They must be confident that the leader of the home is God Almighty.
God commands you to discipline your children; WHY? because they make you mad or embarrass you? NO NO NO. First for His glory and then for their good, discipline even when it's funny, even when you are tired, even when it doesn't seem to work. Expect rebellion and look for it, expect to have to discipline often, expect for God to work in their hearts in HIS timing.
Don't buy into the enemies lies, don't let yourself be discouraged, just press on and plead before the throne of grace for strength to press on. I say to expect these things, because they shouldn't be surprises, they should be a part of worship. Just like a healthy church may have to discipline it's members, although not comfortable, it's an act of worship unto God. Endure to the end, in due season you will reap; you will look back with joy whereas many of the 'in-front' people will look back with grief and regret.

True Discipleship Conf 1 08 Springfield IL

As i promised i wanted to blog some highlights of this conference.
My wife and I drove 6hrs to get there (you could call it our vacation (what better way to spend it) and yes she enjoyed it as much as if not more than me).
The guest speaker was Paul Washer, hosted by Pastor Curt Daniels who spoke twice (an amazingly gifted teacher). We missed the Fri session and two morning sessions, Yet we still heard Curt Daniels once then Paul Washer 2x on Sat and 3x on Sun.r
The church had a small bookstore of very choice books (classics and a few contemporaries). In the lobby were tons of free pamphlets by various authors mostly puritan, and stacks of cd's of past conferences, sermons and lectures (several people including myself needed small boxes to carry everything).
We were able to meet Charles Leiter and his wife, she had given my wife a (hard to find) biographical book by D. Martyn Lloyd-jones' wife about their church and testimonies. Consider this for those who don't understand the blessing of the gospel, this older couple (mature in the faith and surrounded by good preaching) drove 3hrs to hear a conference on the gospel (Leiter is close friends with Paul and a great preacher and writer)- and he was remarking to us how much this was feeding his soul!!! Praise the Lord for such shepherds who value, preach and love the gospel!
On top of the sessions was an abundance of TRUE fellowship (something i crave and rarely anyone seems to care or have time for it), meeting a lot of young and older people who were absolutely excited about Christ and the gospel. We made some good friends! Their was a Pastors dinner which i was able to attend, which consisted of the various pastors and seminary students asking questions (Paul Washer maybe got in a couple of bites). Throughout the conference I had the privilege of speaking to Paul for several hrs and listening to him give counsel and answer questions after the service (we and another young couple just sat there to listen-while people, from teens to the elderly, fellowshipped with Paul Washer).
Let me say something about Paul Washer: he is just a man (he's little in his own eyes) and he's very mild, very down to earth (really really funny), and very balanced. A great expositor who rarely has the freedom to just teach (seeing such a need to uphold and defend the gospel). Compared to the testimonies of Luther, Knox, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Tozer, and Ravenhill this guy is MEDIUM and not very "shocking", but like Paul said 'even those that quote and support these men of the past would have NEVER let them preach in their pulpits, because they WERE wild men!!!! He has planned to take a 3month leave from itinerant ministry stating he has noticed great decline in himself and recognizes that God has used he's for a time but that
he's getting sloppy (something the preacher may notice before anyone else does).
He spoke of something quite remarkable which i needed to hear; in reference to rebuke (correction) he said 'people always try to get out of rebuke by pointing at the way it was said, but that's not the point if it's true then you need to receive it" His wife remarked to him once (she's from Peru) that "Americans are so thin-skinned, if you urge or rebuke they'll just leave the church". Now let me add that Paul has to live his words, and just recently he said he was at a conf. where he said something absurd (not sinful, but wrong) and the next speaker who knows him rebuked him from the pulpit (keep in mind this is before a large crowd). A friend sitting next to Paul commented "but Paul he didn't even come to you first" Paul corrected his friend and he also apologized about his comment the next session he spoke at. He also received a letter critiquing a few other things, something he said was a blessing to him (he even mentioned how Pastor Curt Daniels was also giving him some godly counsel after the first session). As all preachers, especially itinerant preachers, he knows how to discern his listeners. I mean this: if he is around a people who are passionate about theology, exposition, reading and the like he will stress not neglecting time in prayer, not neglecting the emotions, not neglecting the primary call of the home. If around passionate homeschoolers, he'll stress not letting that become a mark of spirituality, to beware just crossing every t and dotting every i and forgetting the heart of the gospel, or around sensationalists he'll stress the need to study, to be rooted in the scriptures to make that the rule of faith and life.. etc.
Well that's the introduction: stay tuned for details over each session.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anything good from Christian Hip-hop

Well it's a new concept for most people; now first things first, if you have any preference to a style of music then you're judgments might be partial and even hypocritical considering that all styles at some point were controversial; there's a dark side to everything. For the record the most popular are very shallow, just like the most popular Christin literature of the day (to these i offer no commendation- a large majority is comprimising, but praise be to God a faithful and sound minority is rising)
What must be weighed then? Content and fruit! I dare say that the best lyrics from the most theologically sound rappers are more profound and explicit than any hymn can be (due to conversational style and length).

Let me throw out different lines: This from a brother in Christ (recently performed at John Piper's church) shai linne My life’s a daily funeral*, but Christ is still beautiful* I’m fired up for ministry*- but business is something* I ain’t did nothing and I’m tired of the industry!* I don’t create for a check*, and it ain’t for your respect* I’m enduring all things for the sake of the elect* That’s why cats be like, “Shai, man! You preaching to the choir!”* I’m like, “Dog, have you seen some of these choirs?”* They need to be preached to-* it’s heathens in the pews* It’s treason that they choose*, looking for reasons to abuse* ....... God’s grace*- walked up to the altar at the age of eight* Live like the world after that And think they’ll make it through the gate* That theology is straight from the father of lies* In mad (meaning many) pulpits*, Satan rocks a disguise* A plot he’s devised* so sheep remain stifled* Because many times I’m like, “Are we reading the same Bible?”* * to help see the pause
Want someting even deeper from the same artist: Using an old song as the theme and chorus "were you there when they crucified my Lord, were you there?
We zoom in the lens on Christ's agony on the garden
Doomed for His friends- His tragedy for our pardon
Like Judas, we sell Christ out to get the treasure
Whether it’s the cheddar (means $$) or forbidden pleasure
Like the chief priests, we want Christ to surrender
But we want Him out the way when He doesn’t fit our agenda
Like Peter, we have misplaced, fleshly confidence
But we’ll deny the Lord when faced with deadly consequence
Like Herod, we’re curious about Christ because He’s famous
But we quickly get bored with Him when He doesn’t entertain us
Like Pilate, we see Christ and find nothing wrong with Him
But when the world chooses the wicked, we go right along with them
Despite His kindness, we seek to do our Maker violence
The fallenness of humanity at its finest
So now He stands before the crowd doomed to die
An angry mob who’s yelling out “crucify”
The way they treat the Lord of glory is debased and it’s foul
But you miss the point if you don’t see your face in the crowd

Now that's God glorifying lyrics! More to come in the future

Saved for the Glory of God

For the Glory of God you have been saved. What is deserved? Well what is man? A rebel, lawbreaker, idolater, and more. Now what is the penalty or the due punishment? Judgment, that's the only thing we could DEMAND from God. The only thing owed to a man is the judgment of a righteous and holy God on each persons sin. Eph 1 and 2 really point out how God has saved men for His own glory. (likewise as will be mentioned on the video clip- the judgment of God also glorifies Him-HOW? because God will defend His holiness, God will not lie, God will bring justice). Read for yourself in Eph 1 and look for the references to God saving men first because He was pleased too-not lonely, not in NEED of us, but because He delighted to do it (this will amaze you if you can keep it mind what He could have done and the cost of saving us-JESUS).
Likewise check out Eph 2 and look for the references to God doing it out of love to us, but always central in both chapters is His glory. His desire to reveal His love was because it pleased (Glory-centered) Him to do so. Thank you Jesus for saving wretches like me!
Small clip of Jeff Noblit with music (no i didn't make it)

Nuture Your wife

As Christ loves the church, you should love your wife. I honestly have to say there are many couples that have convicted me in the way they live (or seem to), yet i have to say that only one preacher has really helped me to see things a lot more biblically and that is Paul Washer (whom i have met and will see this weekend-hoping to blog the mini conf). Most of what i have heard concerning husbands loving their wives sounds more like Dr. Phil (never watched him-I've been out of the tv programs loop for over 5yrs- and it's no loss). You know an emphasis on keeping the romance and being nice, nothing more than what most secular counselors will tell you, beyond that it may be briefly added in a sermon.
To love you wife as Christ loves the church, is to sacrifice for her benefit; not to please her every desire (because you can't). Paul Washer made the point that as Christ will present a spotless bride to Himself, so should we strive for the holiness of our wives. Are you caring for the spiritual well-being of your wife? Of course i don't mean taking her to church, or buying the latest women's book out. Surely you care for her physical well-being, yet even in that it might be possible to hinder her growth if you encourage the wrong things. Like giving way to materialism, or not cautioning her regarding the way she dresses (reveal to her the way men see things), or even putting a stop to gossip and perhaps there's lots more. Yet more than anything i want to call you to bless her positively. Do you know where your wife is at? you should, you should know her strengths, her weaknesses; otherwise you won't know how to help her.
Husbands, fathers let me stress this point with intensity: If their is spiritual immaturity in the believers in your home (especially your wife) and/or your marriage or relationship to your children (something that could described as increasingly problematic) then you have no business at all giving time to anything else: if anyone has to sacrifice time in order to insure the health of the family, it's YOU! All else is vanity; fishing, golfing, sport games, the car, new additions to the home, any and everything else must go. Give yourself to the spiritual health of your family. In what ways are you holding her accountable, are you helping to give her time so she can study and pray? Are you concerned about what she listens to and watches and who she's around? (I'm addressing 'Christian' things-have you built into her discernment?) Are you quick to lead in repentance when doing wrong (for me it's when i react too quickly and am harsh). Now before all these things, i'm assuming that she is truly saved. Lead with passion, by sharing with her the exciting things you learn or are seeing God do. Learn to express things like a good puritan, by that i mean you talk about the truth in light of a passion for Christ (not something that eventually leads there somehow), but draw out the heart of every truth; someone said next to be a bad preacher the worst you could be is a boring preacher (speak with fire-consumed for Christ).
My position has been unique because i met my wife on the day of her conversion, and was married shortly after. So we've had the blessing of pursing God together from the start. I also went through significant changes in thinking and theology, which i was able to see my wife go through with me. We even ministered together for almost two years (juvenile jails 2x a week) and we moved three hrs from home (so she's definitely my best friend!). Whenever i saw something in the word for the first time, I was excited to tell her about it, I also realized she would never read as much as I do so i would read a quote or tell her something i liked or strongly disagreed with. We have also spent some significant times reading together, (well I read and she listens or gives a massage or something)-Biographies and straight to the point books are great for this. You have to do what works: when we went through Voddie Baucham's book on the family, we read just before bed, even while she's doing the dishes.
Maybe for starters set Sundays aside to listen to some good teaching, or read a book together, but plan to do SOMETHING!
Of course this can only be done by the grace of God and if you feel condemned then that's not the intent nor is it the proper response, revert those thoughts of self failure and look to the cross and grieve the sin/neglect in light of the offense to God and pray for strength and wisdom.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Despair from a lack of change

Have you ever just wanted to quit because you felt like you were the only one seeking to hold high the standard of God? I mean you see some obvious issues in a person, your family or the church and you are giving so much time and energy trying to convince them that there is a problem and nothing. This could very well apply to a mom (hopefully a father too) and her children or of a marriage to an unbeliever.
I was thinking about this at work, and something that really stuck out to me a couple yrs ago that never clicked before was Elijah's despair. I was only exposed to the one view where Elijah is surprisingly pictured as this wimpish man who's afraid of Jezebel; but i really don't think that's the problem (hey i you got this the first time you read it, then bear with me). Elijah flees after a great miracle where he challenged the prophets of Baal and God consumed the altar by fire miraculously and the people pledged their allegiance to God also his prediction of ran after a long drought came true, King Ahab though told his wife Jezebel what happened and how Elijah put to death all their false prophets and so she sent a death letter to Elijah.
Although it does mentioned he was afraid, we must ask why? I believe he tells God the truth when God asks Elijah "What's the problem" Elijah said this in 1 Kings 19:10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." and again in 19:14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." Do you see now? The problem is that Elijah is convinced that these people will never change, what else could they see, Elijah felt like he was the only one seeking reform and all he was hearing was criticism and hate. Elijah knew full well, that the Israelites always went with the King, and since the king and his wife didn't change then, all else seemed hopeless. His cry was "Lord i can't take it, there's no use, just take me now-I'm not the one". God would reply "get over it, I have remnant, you're not the only one" Bless God for that. He does not leave us in despair, he encourages us to press on and in time he brings us companions to share our burdens. Initially God attempts to shatter out elitist pride and wake us up to the reality that it's about Him not us, but in His compassion to our weakness the Lord comforts and heals us. What happens next for Elijah? He gets a charge to find men who will fight with him, and immediately he finds a friend and co-worker Elisha. Press onward soldier and despair not, for your deliverance is at hand! You must be faithful to your charge, doing what you can with what the Lord provides and do it in expectancy, leaving the results to God.

Perhaps you are a young person that is so hungry for more, you see the state of the church in America (perhaps you go to an unhealthy church) and you think to yourself that this can't be it, you read the gospels and the book of Acts and you are convinced that the end is coming soon because no one seems to care about loving and obeying Christ Jesus. It all seems to be a joke, everything seems to be superficial. Well my friend many of us have been there and many of us have first found our comfort in reading old books, the puritans or biographies of men greatly used of God and you rejoice thinking "i'm not the only one" and then you repent thinking "Wow, these people were serious, i'm just complaining and they actually were doing something about the problem". After that you start crying out for change, you plead with people and suddenly God puts good teachers before you (physically, online or it might be doubtfully possible you find them on the radio) make sure you don't like them just because they can point and name every problem out there, yet they offer no counsel, no safeguard from sinning in the midst of what you see, say or do- make certain you find someone who is really burdened for the glory of God and mourning the state of the church and not a bitter and offended faultfinder. Lastly you will find some good friends, and a good church where you're exposed to God-glorifying passionate Jesus freaks.

Cardinal Sin of today 'examine yourself'

Make sure you read the excerpt below in blue.
Indeed we live in a day where the church has indeed blurred it's distinction and this because of it's weak evangelistic campaigns. When I say the church, i mean majority (western church). The cost of following Christ is not stressed enough and the art of exposing false motives is also something breezed over. What makes the matter worse is that people are being told by (well-intentioned) people that they are saved, they feel that it's part of their counseling to 'assure' people that they are saved. Well let me ask what do you say to a person that would tell you that they question whether they are saved or not? This is common in any regular type of ministry, I certainly have been posed the question many times: well I'll tell you that by instinct I want to ease their doubts, I want to comfort them, but that's not biblical. That's would not be true love, a love for the soul, we must not be satisfied with less than real fruit. "i said a prayer", "i love church", "I love the preacher", "i want to go on missions trips", and "i love Christian radio". NO NO NO don't settle, do not assume they have grasped the gospel. You must ask some questions, get an idea of where they think they are, get them to tell you how their supposed decision has changed them from that point on (of course they won't have great terminology but listen for true brokenness, true repentance, truly aware of their absolute hopelessness without Christ. Then unless you are absolutely convinced then proclaim the gospel (I've never had someone get angry at that-- just be upfront about your concern "look i wanna share with you what the scriptures say a true Christian is, because the worst thing that could happen to a person is to think they are saved, and be told by the Lord Jesus, "i never knew you, depart from me".)
Let me ask what scriptures you would use to examine (as you present the gospel) someone?
You could use the promises of the new covenant in Ezekiel (36:25-27)and Jeremiah (31:31-34, 32:38-41) or the beatitudes, also a concise in your face approach would be to go to 1 John and go through every chapter examining the direct descriptions of those who 'walk', 'abide', 'love' God. Might take time? Ever examined a school (university or something), perhaps you had to drive hrs away or fly somewhere to review a school for you or a child then shouldn't the state of someone's soul be carefully, with time as no expense, examined? I'll attempt to help on this matter frequently in posts to come.
This is from A.W. Pink 1886-1952 on Apostasy
In the past, dear reader, there have been thousands who were just as confident that they had been genuinely saved and were truly trusting in the merits of the finished work of Christ to take them safely through to Heaven, as you may be. Nevertheless, they are now in the torments of Hell. Their confidence was a carnal one…They were too confident that their faith was a saving one to thoroughly, searchingly, frequently test it by the Scriptures, to discover whether or not it was bringing forth those fruits that are inseparable from the faith of God’s elect. If they read an article like this, they proudly concluded that it belonged to someone else. So cocksure were they that they were born again so many years ago, they refused to heed the command of 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Prove your ownselves.” Now it is too late. They wasted their day of opportunity, and the “blackness of darkness” is their portion forever. In view of this solemn and awful fact, the writer earnestly calls upon himself and each reader to get down before God and sincerely cry, “Search me, O God: reveal me to myself. If I am deceived, undeceive me before it be eternally too late.

Monday, September 15, 2008

prerequisites for effectively preaching the gospel

Let me throw out some quick points (The gospel will be a constant theme)
if you want to be effective in sharing the gospel then there are some things that you must have or else you will not be effective

  • You must be convinced it's not about you

You don't have the ability to save anyone, that someone cannot be manipulated into salvation (or else they won't have it). It's not like sales---You bear one responsibility: FAITHFULNESS faithfulness to the truth and attitude of the gospel (you present God's truth and you genuinely long for that persons salvation)

  • You must be convinced of their problem

A lot that is said concerning this: for the most part hinders the majority of the church from reaching out- You have groups of people telling you that there are all these different types of people out there and that you must be able to engage them from where they are coming from-most of the time this is not from pastors or ministers but from people who debate, people who write books but not people seeing souls saved. My concern is for the average church member who lacks basic bible knowledge and is overwhelmed by all these things he/she must know before he/she can reach this or that culture. Let me say that a great deal of this is major stumbling block to evangelism. Jc Ryle in Practical Religion made reference to a man that said "give me a candle and a bible and lock me in a room and I'll tell you everything that's going on and what the solutions are" Now that's what i call a belief in biblical sufficiency. It has been said "you can win the argument and still lose the war" (something like that). Sin is the problem, you must be convinced of that, that 'men loved darkness rather than light' let nothing move you from this reality, don't let this reality be avoided- preach the law to reveal it. When you go to a person don't be distracted by labels (evolutionist, atheist, post modern, etc...) not saying that you can't ever address these things but you must keep in your mind that you are speaking to a sinner (a rebel, a blind and depraved soul) it may seem rude but get to the gospel as quick as you can, it could be something like this "I really don't know about that, but let me tell you what I do know, let me tell you what the bible says, even if you don't think it's true, it IS........"

  • You must be convinced of the word's power

The bible is powerful and effective (Heb 4), it cuts to the heart, it is what the Holy Spirit bears witness to and brings back to remembrance: if you preach to a person don't leave them with your words, they must hear what God says. No make sense? Of course not it's foolishness, but it's exactly how God has seen fit to reach men. Don't seek for exceptions, stand upon the norm of the scriptures and history: The preaching of the word is the primary, predominate way God saves sinners. The gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom 1). In 2 Tim 4 Paul attempts to prepare Timothy for what he will have to endure, He tells him how people won't want the truth, they'll want to be tickled, they be fed up with hearing "the bible says.." and you know what Paul's master advice is "PREACH THE WORD" AMEN to that!

  • You must be convinced of the gospels effect

No matter what you see with your eyes, no matter how rough the character of the person you speak to, no matter how intensely wicked his/her environment; God will make that person a new creature. Men are dead in sin, there's nothing worse than that, nothing less responsive then dead things, yet God breathes life into a soul that is saved. God gives no half conversions, and don't you present one either. Testify to the great change of salvation (regeneration) let the person know that they will know and so will others that a great change has token place if it's real. Don't buy the lies that it's harder for some people, or think to yourself this person is so close to being saved- what's close half-dead NO! There's no such thing, in fact that person is usually harder to reach because he/she is trusting in their morality. You must go to a man/woman in faith that God can do a drastic work of salvation in this person. The miracle of conversion comes to all who fully trust in the Lord Jesus.

To be continued........... I gotta go to bed zzzzzzzzzz

How long?

How long has it been my dear reader (true believer), since you felt the warmth of the Father's touch? How long has it been since you burned while reading the scriptures? How long has it been since you mourned over your weaknesses? How long has it been since you longed to see souls saved? How long has it been since you lost track of time in prayer? How long has it been since a melody of praise was welling up in you? Probably too long! Well then seek the father, don't make a resolution to seek the father, don't say to yourself "you are right, i really need to spend more concentrated time with the Lord, I'll start sometime soon" No No never sometime, today! Tomorrow! Ask God for a desire, as God for motivation, mourn and repent of your hardness, your apathy and come boldly before His throne of grace, seeking the enjoyment of Him.
It's amazing how quick we forget, how quick we grow hard, how quick we complain, how quick we give up, how quick we fall. Yet He loves us, what a thought. Yet God still loves us the same and why? He loves us in the son, the son is so precious, so valuable, His sacrifice was so pleasing to the Father that God can love us as he loves the son.: truly that is a testimony and proof to the finished work of Christ. Paul Washer says this "the greatest act of faith is to believe God loves us as much as He says he does in spite of our weakness". Amen to that and praise God for that, for without that none of us could stand before Him. Well what are you wanting for, turn off the computer and spend some time with the Father!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Constrained by grace?

Sporadically I'll comment on this great theme. Yes I am constrained, compelled, captured, moved, amazed, motivated and in love with this great and awesome salvation we have received. God who needs nothing, God who has been pleased to create man, has been offended. God has been abused, fought against, disregarded, blasphemed, treated as nothing, mocked, scorned, teased, tempted, lied to, and made war against by His creatures. We have been, (you might still be) enemies of God- every sin is a personal attack against God, every rebellion is an attempt on His throne, we are indeed great sinners. We indeed have debt owed to God, this debt is required by the hand of His justice and will be paid. Well the wages of sin is death, eternal death for sins against an eternal God. Yet God has had mercy on a people, God has chosen to redeem a people for His great name, for His great pleasure and because He has chosen to place His love on us. This He has done knowing how He would do this, He would place the judgment every believer deserves and place it in full force on Christ Jesus. Jesus would bear, would drink the full cup of God's wrath- the wrath and terror you would experience in hell God placed on Christ while on that cross. Jesus Christ was the lamb slaughtered for a worthless, rebelling and condemned people. He had no need of us, yet He wanted us: Glory be to God. What grace, what love is this? If you lack zeal then think on these things, if you lack peace then think on these things. A proper understanding of God's grace is the chief motivator for godly living. For this we need a proper understanding of the Holiness of God, and then we need a proper view of sin (without which we can not treasure this 'great' salvation- nor witness to a true gospel). Grace has been poured out, and you will not find the end to this grace- you will in vain seek to grasp completely this grace; yet you must pursue the thought, you must in awe gaze upon the grace of God. I am what I am by the grace of God and so are you, you have worth because He has placed it upon you, God gained nothing by saving anyone- we on the other hand gain everything. Praise to the Lord for His great grace!

Young People dating

A quick look at the reasons to AVOID dating;

  • It's not biblical, nor common to history.
  • Emotionally straining
  • Without a view to marriage is completely selfish (what i can get out of it)
  • Good way to practice divorce
  • A Hindrance to growing in Christ with others

Hinders time that should be spent with peers of same sex facing same problems

Hinders time needed to be around older saints to learn from

Hinders time that should be spent discipling someone else

  • Takes away time for personal growth

Singleness should be a time of PREPERATION (for marriage or adulthood) which takes a lot of self examining, studying the word, ministry, building a consistent prayer life (these get harder-not impossible-to cultivate if you try to START after you are married. Don Kistler (or Don Carson??) says "you should be more concerned about BEING the right person, rather than FINDING the right person.

  • MAJOR pitfall for temptation -are you seeking help from God in this matter, yet you won't consider that His help (way of escape) is to RESIST the temptation to play with fire. Perhaps you're wondering "what's too far?" Well Jesus said 'If you lust in your heart after someone, it's adultery' so too far would be before the petting, the intimate embraces, and so forth.
  • Confusing and deceptive to typically a sister

Men wake up and grow up, stop using this girl and be honest, What are you seeking? "I'm lonely" Get over it, she's not fill in mom; let us pursue godliness and the growth of godliness of others

If you aren't ready to begin a family, then don't play the field, it won't help any. Keep your eyes on Christ and the Lord will direct your paths. Ready for kids? Then don't seek marriage: it seems the norm to postpone (this could REALLY get me started) the birth of children, because a couple is so busy and has all these plans (which adds to the mentality of the day that children are not a blessing but a burden). The only thing that should be sacrificed (scriptually) if you are involved in heavy ministry is MARRIAGE (that's what Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians)--but that doesn't mean use dating as the way to fill in that missing desire (if God has given you that NORMAL desire than get READY)!

I could say more: like when you aren't focused on what God is making you and more concerned about finding a mate that you can often persuade yourself into thinking everyone is the one ('hello' oh my she said hello, maybe she's the one....). Like the many lies connected to thinking marriage will solve all your problems: lust, pride, grief, burdens, etc... No there's one solution, one factor that sets mature believers from immature believers; the pursuit of God!



Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Acts 2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
I Corinthians 15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Yesterday will never be relived and tomorrow will never come but we will always have today. There is a truth in the word daily, which must be grasped, but is often neglected. Christ never intended for our strength to be met through a weekly service, or else we would be studying the word weekly or occasionally. Jesus said that today has its own problems (Mt 6:34), so then we must live for Christ today. The words associated with the Christian life, this incredible walk, are often military terms and words that stress diligence i.e. Continually, always, daily, persistent.
Indeed our spiritual needs are similar to that of our physical need, in the sense that we need daily replenishment. No matter how much you eat today, you will yet again be hungry tomorrow; the question is do you hear the hunger of your spirit? This word daily may arouse different thoughts; which should not be stagnant routine, predictable, but fresh, delightful, and fulfilling. As a parent wanting to witness a child’s firsts, or a lover content to listen to the voice of their lover over the phone for hours, is pale in comparison to pursing God daily. Many never find delight because they are creatures of methods, steps, programs, no no no it must not be that way with God. We must not think like the religions that profess an impersonal God. Our times with God should contain an element of spontaneity, as with spending time with an earthly lover. Our faith must be in the person of God, not principles, not the words we speak, nor the position of our bodies. John said that to love God means that His commandments are not burdensome; they won’t be something to be regretted of (1 John 5). Our time with God will not be a part of our ‘to do’ list when it’s of love, for the things that we truly enjoy we never limit! I must also say that there are exceptions; there are times when we will not ‘feel’ like pursuing God, of course this is not our spirit speaking but our flesh. In those times we must be like soldiers in the midst of a war; indeed we are in a greater war then history has ever witnessed. As soldiers we must hold our posts, we must watch, must stay focused, and must through much denial of ‘feelings’ fight and be ready to fight; for we know that we are often attacked when our guard is down for our adversary is like a lion seeking such opportunity.
Is there yet grace? Well of course, regardless of our repeated failures the Lord will still restore us, He will yet again give us ability and opportunity. Yet it must be understood that does not mean growth, for a man to be forgiven of his slack in the word of God is one thing but to be ready and equipped takes discipline. No lasting change will take place in your personal walk, your family, your ministry or your church until those means by which the Lord has instituted are pursued. Unless there are deposits there shall be no withdrawals, allow me to repeat that one cannot reap what one does not sow!
Make as many promises, read as many books, listen to as many sermons you like, nothing will change until you make a daily change. It’s often said “that it’s not about religion but about a relationship”. If that is true then how strong is a relationship that does not contain a daily work? That may be a true statement but is it a reality in your home? Would your children be equipped to walk this walk if they simply imitated this relationship that you present in front of them? Or would they equate Jesus with something that is done at church?!
Consider again the verses describing the lifestyle of those early followers; it seems that they were preoccupied with the things of God. Fellowship was not something that the church facilitated but was a daily enjoyment. It was normal to want to be in the presence of those who also served Christ, for they even remembered His death, burial, and resurrection daily. Even the ministers never clocked out from their calling, for they were ministers whenever and wherever they were, as with those who were worshippers of God. What a man is daily is who he is, never what a man is in the church! For even a shepherd is not one who stands behind a pulpit, no! what makes him a shepherd is the caring of the flock daily!
How can we measure devotion, worship, and commitment? By what terms of value, certainly money may play a part but that isn’t always the case, especially for a destitute man. It must be something that we all have, something that all can give, something that evens the odds; that thing is time. Time is something we all have, no man has more, no man has less; the opportunities are limitless when that priceless gift of time is offered! God sees this commodity as very valuable, for a worker is never on his own time, one who has been bought with a price has no time to call his own! Certainly there are necessities and God understands that just like a child understands the difference between neglect and necessary duty, but to add to that is to take away from what is due to God. These things that are often added are what the bible calls idols or even stumbling blocks; what would be thought of a man that chose to go bowling every night after work then on his way to bed tells his wife how he wishes he had the time to spend with her. Would you tell him of ways to squeeze it all in, perhaps a phone call on the way to the alley, a short coffee break for two, maybe a solid five minutes of heart to heart conversation while eating breakfast and so on? Of course not! You’d tell him that he’s going to lose her if he doesn’t make a sacrifice; you’d ask him what’s more important bowling or his wife. Yet when it comes to God, we completely change our approach to building a vibrant relationship; we have a smorgasbord of teachings on how to get the most out of little, how to fit God into our agenda. Simply a well organized diet to meet our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and carnal desires: the 21st century believer is certainly purpose driven, that is to say driven by his own purposes.
Can we get practical though? For what purpose do you read such things, have you any more desire to change? It must be admitted that wishes don’t become realities. Time doesn’t come to you, things never slow down; what you do with your time is by choice. What has to be cut, what has to be put aside? As long as your time with the Lord is given to chance, it will be sporadic and unfruitful. It would be better to look at all else and make those items up for grabs; time with God first, then if you have time for the non-essentials.
It is a pitiful thing to hear a believer who’s been saved for more than a decade, speak with extensive knowledge about sports, politics, and history yet barely the word of God or even experiencing God. What pity, a believer who’s been saved longer should with ease be able to lead new believers in the knowledge of daily devotion to God. Oh how many find this life one of strife, not simply the inner struggle but an unnecessary attitude of weariness. How few know of the strength Isaiah speaks of:
Isaiah 40: 31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
The word wait used in this instance means waiting, certainly not a rush! Oh but how many find it so hard to just wait before the Lord, to be silent before the Lord: a depth of silence not just a silent moment.
We are so inclined to be in a rush, yet we never get to intimacy in a rush. Consider many passing relationships, especially younger ones they are built around the rush; yet when things slow down the relationship falls apart. Every date is filled with excitement, going to this movie, to that theme park, to this club to that party and so on. Filled with busyness, yet this could go on for years and it is no proof for a strong relationship; because life will slow that rush down and intimacy will become awkward thus the relationship breaks. It’s common to hear a mate ask to spend time together, now is that person talking about time in front of a TV, is it just your presence? Weren’t you in each others’ company at the grocery store and in the car? Get a clue men, she’s talking about intimacy, undivided attention, sharing of thoughts and experiences. Yet we may know this, but find it so easy to occupy ourselves with things of no value whatsoever.
As with children, they need more than a driver and fan for sports events, they need more than a host for birthday parties, they need more than someone with a credit card, or someone who can throw a football! Teens often isolate themselves because they feel as though they can’t be open with their fears, hurts, and struggles. If only they could have grown up in an intimate relationship through undivided communication instead of busy activity.
What has to change? What is worth you losing time with the lover of your soul?
Too many are flying through life with no progress whatsoever, simply entertaining themselves to death. TV, internet, work, hobbies, and even church events; are they stealing your time with the Lord? If you think they're not idols then consider giving them up for a week, then you will know if it is an idol or not! Time in the presence of the Lord will never be regretted of, no for in His vine you will bear fruit. Let us not forget that Jesus said that unless we abide in Him that we cannot bear fruit, it is God working through you daily. The Lord gives you just enough if you are willing to take it. We must not allow ourselves to trust in our flesh, we must be fearful of self rising up; daily we must realize our frailty and absolute dependence upon God! Never will there be shortcuts, never will there be lasting fruit without devotion, and never will you find a substitute for time with the Lord!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fed up with Church!

Is that how you feel sometimes? CONSIDER THIS: that the church is a means (tool) of grace that God has instituted for your good. The church is the pillar of the faith, God has called men to prepare God's people for works and to equip them in the knowledge of God (this is primary). A place of shared delights and shared burdens, a center of fellowship (which is exclusively spiritual-Christ centered relationships). Individualy every believer represents Christ and must strive to honor God in our lifestyles; yet the church does this on an even wider scale, holding the attention of the world. Many people define their views of the faith by a church they have visited or seen. The church then must strive for purity, being governed by the word of God and conforming to the knowledge of the truth it's exposed to, not tradition.
SO WHAT? Well, the first thing that must be asked is "are you right, but wrong or just wrong?"
That depends primarily on why you have a problem with a particular church, is it because you see the church failing to care for the flock and to represent God as He should be represented (this means you are concerned about His glory) or are you blaming the church for personal or family problems for not motivating you enough to pursue Christ daily? This is very easy to do, yet it's not the duty of the church to produce desire, only Christ can do that. If you are in an unhealthy church what are you doing about it? Just complaining (sin), just pointing out it's errors to eveyone (sin), just avoiding everyone (sin), leaving the church (may be wise). Yet if you are still there and seek to keep focused on God's glory and not becoming self focused- then you must do something. Pray for the church, cry out for the leadership: to be bold, to become more solid in doctrine and pray for a door to address such problems.
What about me? Well you'll need to pursue good teaching, get some old books (depending on your reading style)-Listen to sermons (get them online):Check out Paul Washer, Albert Martin, Joel Beeke, Jeff Noblit. Above that, devote yourself to studying the word (read and reread) and pray for God's leading.

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