Friday, October 31, 2008

Must listen sermons

Well due to extreme fatigue i'm at loss for thoughts, but i thought i would put some more sermons that i would beg you to listen to:
I hope to have a more extensive list, one day i plan to put permanently on the front page: this is especially for those that may not like to search for messages, or have problems downloading things, and for those who don't read much.

Albert Martin (sound, clear and a 'in your face' older minister)

JEFF NOBLIT ( Pastor (the church Paul Washer attends)

Paul Washer It is my unswerving belief that only those who can preach down the pride of men, can preach up the grace of God (the puritans and the greatest preachers were always known to be men who could cut a heart in two with fiery zeal or overwhelm you in the glory of God's love)

Charles Leiter Pastor and Author (great insights, very easy to follow)

Let me know if this is helpful! Enjoy and God bless

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 indictments on the church by Paul Washer

A must hear, very passionate from a man who's seen the gospel treated as nothing, and has seen the horrible effects of the 'american gospel' on the mission field.

Just click the play button or read it here:
you need adobe acrobat a link to the adobe site (free)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bless Good Shepherds

Do you not realize how rare good ministers are? How rare it is to have a good church in your city, sure "every" church says they are centered on the word, seeking the glory of God and so on. It must be stated clearly that the great majority of the men in pulpits or seeking pulpits today are not called of God: they aren't qualified by biblical standards, they don't labor in the word and in prayer, they don't have a desire for the glory of God and a love for people.
Oh how in need we are of men who can preach, who burn with passion for God, who are burdened for the souls of men, and who leave you filled with a longing to go hard for God!
What a burden these ministers carry, the theologically sound minister carries a lot of burdens: for one he's a target for pride-filled eggheads that want to trap godly men in their words. In their God given STUBBORNNESS to give people what they need over what they want even though many will take that as being uncaring. The tough and biblical carrying out of church discipline (including any form of counselling) that isn't filled with pyscho-babel will often be viewed as a power hungry cult leader. The burden of seeing people not grow when they've poured hours over a single sermon (not looking up cool sayings, or video clips, or just a powerpoint) but chewing over the text, begging God for insight and passion! The burden of fighting harder to be blameless before the people and before their family. The fear of losing balance with devotion, ministry, and family.
Wives please encourage those men, don't grow bitter by listening to the lies of Satan as he appeals to your selfishness, but come to your husband as a soldier needing bandaging and rest from a life of war. Take more to the Lord then you do to him, and listen for the right times to bring up things.
Church pray for those men, pray for their endurance, pray for them to have boldness, encourage them by your attendance, by your growth. It's not really an encouragement to hear 'good sermon' if they know it's not producing fruit or especially if you can't tell them why you said it was good (some compliments are annoying--flattery--like a woman that thinks it's encouragement to tell a mother who just had a child how thin she looks).

Heb 13:17Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1 Tim 5:17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." 19Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

Bless these men of God with reverence, praying for God's grace to be given to them, and pray for their families they are under attack. Bless them financially, especially if you know they wouldn't ask for it. Rather than clutter them with gifts, give them gift certificates like to (tons of books or anything).
Also don't take up their time with silly curiosities like 'pastor i know it's 1130pm sat night but did Adam have a belly button?'. Another hint don't bother him on the morning before he preaches with petty complaints 'i noticed normal light bulbs in the nursery, i think the Lord would want us to use the energy saving kind, perhaps you could remind people to take care of the earth' or 'that song really put me to sleep, i hope your sermon is more interesting'
These are some of the things that certainly don't help preaching NOR looking at your WATCH several times when he's preaching! Bless that man who shepherds as one who knows he will give an account to the Good Shepherd.

Children really being saved?

This is something constantly before my mind and most of this is something i had wrote as a email to some elders. If you are a parent, a childrens' worker, an elder then this applies to you- please read with care:

It appears that in every child, although the age varying, that there comes a time where he no longer is restrained by the influences of his parents and expresses himself in a completely new light. Children naturally are given to imitation and are often carried by the faith of their parents. Children of godly parents tend to display more morality than children of the world, and thus many are filled with much self-righteousness before conversion. As with all men, children are influenced by the greater majority of those they are associated with; this is often mistaken as fruit of salvation, such as singing worship music, a form of prayer, memorization of scripture, pointing out things that are wrong, and a love to go to church among other things. It must be understood that one can have these and many more and still be lost. I am truly perplexed that these things are not taught when addressing parenting, yet it was commonplace among the times in church history where family devotions were imitated.
Many have termed this change in maturity ‘age of accountability’. To be put in clearer terms, the age at which a child is able to comprehend right and wrong, that he must turn from sin and turn to God, with this understanding will come true remorse. It is the fallacy of the day (obscure to 100+yrs ago) that a mere imitation and repeating of a prayer means that a child has been saved; this leads to the countless numbers of testimonies of people coming to Christ then ’backsliding’ for 10, 20, 30+ yrs: and if the church was not so naive and truly tested things by the word then it would become clear that this ’time’ of falling away began (shortly after the influence of the parents was changed. Yet I believe if the true gospel (spelling out the truth before people, convincing them of their wicked heart, emphasizing what is least comfortable; SIN) is preached, taught, and tested then many would avoid much heartache over loved ones; as a result many parents would be convinced that they must not stop short of true fruit and continue to warn their children to flee from the wrath to come.
The church has adopted a ‘convenient theology’ when it comes to practical application; in it’s declaration of sin, hell, false conversions, false teachers and church discipline. Evangelism stops at the point of the (Christian’s) conscience being appeased, not at the full counsel of God being declared.
Children in the past were taught theology (many had to learn to sit in service and listen) and Sunday school teachers were tested and taught how to declare God’s full truth to children. Unfortunately the flooding of unnecessary programs has led to such a need for workers that the prerequisite for many is simply to volunteer (this is unscriptural); many a church would do well to completely remove every ministry and then to add what seems to be most vital, most fruitful, and most scriptural and even divinely equipped by God.
Has no one noticed that it is not commonplace to see children in the scriptures or older biographies (Spurgeon, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield, Bunyan, etc), and even (the most renowned and respected) revivals come to saving faith. Yet we are wrongly told that it’s commonplace today and in fact the easiest time to reach them. Yes with the sort of gospel that’s being told today it would certainly make sense that many are coming to such professions. I witnessed this and was also an advocate to this in two big inner-city children’s ministries, where several hundred children week after week were told the seeker sensitive gospel or even the “carnal Christian” (Jesus as Savior now and Lord later or never) gospel, then countless numbers would be testified of coming to Christ yet as time went on it was plain that nothing had truly happened. Oh but one would say my testimony says something quite different” what does your experience mean compared to thousands of years of truth; I too thought I was saved at a young age but it was a Christianity that was only imitation and lasted only when I was around the influence of the church, yet it was like the morning mist Hosea 6:4, but perhaps you may be one of the few exceptions. Of course because we are creatures of habit and our minds are filled with ‘patterns’ of thought we naturally reject what confronts the things we have always accepted. Yet search the scriptures and you will not find a special kind of faith for children, or a special kind of fruit for children; even search your memory of the many people you have watched this major shift (more like a manifestation of what was there) in young people and as they are given more freedom have used it to reject the fellowship of the church .
I am truly so concerned with this in regard to my children that I would (and should) do all in my power to guard my children from a man centered, non offensive, soft (faulty) theology, veggie tale gospel. I would curse the day (if true fruit or true understanding is not accompanied) someone tells me one of my boys got saved and were ‘assured’ that they will now go to heaven; nothing could be more detrimental to a person than a belief in a false profession. I believe this is also why many including myself (previously) have viewed (wrongfully) the sacraments as insignificant, due to the fact that warnings are so few and far between, in regards to baptism not many are really examined, and so that which is so beautiful and significant has lost it’s awe (fearful amazement which leads to worship).
My purpose in writing these things is surely not to impress or to receive any acknowledgement for there is nothing worse to a preacher than to be told ‘great sermon’ and then nothing is taken in or followed. I beg my brothers in Christ to examine the truth (to ignore all prejudices against age and intellect) and pray that God may reveal what applies in our lives and in our churches and then to respond by acting on that truth.
I believe that the only solution is a full reformation, not simply a couple teachings: for we are confronting something that has greatly influenced many churches, books, and missions.

Unfortunately it's too common to hear people professing the salvation of their children at even 3 or 4 yrs old, yet these children grasp nothing but "who wants Jesus to come inside your heart?"
Can you explain the gospel? I remember reading i believe Spurgeon on 'soulwinning' and he made the point that if you can't explain something to a child then you don't really understand it; in other words: you don't find children's truth, but you explain and re-explain solid truth until they can grasp it.
At the conf my wife and I attended in Sept, Paul Washer explained how one night he stumbled upon his child crying (5yrs at the time) and asked him what was going on: Ian replied that he didn't want to go to hell, well after Paul had talked to him, it seemed clear the boy was merely scared but not repentant. YET what would have most parents done? or most ministers? They would have said some pitiful cliche' and led their child in a FALSE profession which they would never again question! THIS IS CHILD ABUSE, I BEG YOU LEARN THE GOSPEL AND LEARN WHAT THE FRUITS OF SALVATION ARE. Consider also the many reasons a child may not be sincere: *a desire to fit in *a desire to please the parents *wanting to go to DISNEY heaven. Don't be so anxious that you are blind to what's really going on, be patient and continue to explain the gospel. I'm not limiting what CAN happen, but asking you to be looking for what is ACTUALLY happening.

Salvation is by works

Consider this: What is the call to salvation? Or what should men be told when they ask 'what must i do to be saved?' REPENT AND BELIEVE
What is REPENTANCE? What is BELIEF? I tell you that they are both works!
Is intellectual belief enough, just a acceptance of facts? NO of course not!
Most would explain repentance simply as a change of mind or a change in direction. Ok so let's look at it deeper, what exactly is the change? A change towards what?
The extended version of what it means to repent and believe is this:
Stop trusting in self righteousness, stop trying to be righteous, acknowledge God as the only true God that desires all worship and all obedience, fully accept all your sins as direct attacks against God, accept that you deserve hell and GOd is just in sending men there, accept that only Jesus Christ can save you, and NOW: start hating sin, start loving God, stop being selfish and love others, start loving truth, start desiring to know and please God from now on! (am i missing anything else?......)
NOW: can you honestly look at this, looking at what biblical repentance and biblical faith is and think that it's not about works?
And NOW to relieve all those that have been reading this with a frown: REPENTANCE AND FAITH ARE WORKS but they are the WORK OF GOD, not man! In otherwords i hope you see how impossible the call to salvation is, that it must be accomplished by a miracle of God. It's not a decision, man does not have the ability to produce such a response towards God. The tests of true faith can be produced by NO MAN. We plant, we water, but God gives the increase! We prophesy, we speak, yet it's God who raises the dry bones. DEAD IN SIN: just a corpse has no ability to respond, so does natural man have no ability- the day of a man's salvation cannot be determined by a man. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prayer ruts

Pitfall #159 is (this would be something the puritans could do- but i just threw out a number for effect) prayer ruts. I suppose this could apply to all ruts in devotion.
Just going through the motions? Then why bother right? WRONG!!!! Don't fall for that one, like we all have, assuming that a lack of delight should make you quit something. Or even the fact that something is repetitious; could a child, a spouse, a parent express too much love? Doesn't hearing the words "i love you!" get old? It certainly shouldn't!
Ever heard the saying 'pray until you pray', well my definition :) of that is to pray until you really pray, or pray and keep on praying until that delight comes. With that i would tell you that we certainly don't rely on those emotions, but it's not wrong to desire that all our capacities be lined up with God. When we feel no delight, we should ask for it, pray for a desire to pray, pray for a delight in prayer. If you dare Pray WHY you don't have a desire or delight in prayer.
This applies equally to the reading of the word, i have heard the advice and would commend it 'read the word until it warms your heart", not some weird mystical experience but indeed a conscious experience nevertheless of God's presence (His blessing). There should be a hunger, a desperation in prayer and reading that mimics Jacob 'Lord i won't let you go until you bless me'. This i don't believe is done so God sees our seriousness, but so that we can see whether it's truly our desire. Ask and keep on Asking and you will receive, pursue Him!
Catch yourself getting weak, tired, distracted while praying or reading? well maybe just maybe you got a demon! You're a pitiful false convert then!?? NO OF COURSE NOT IF that's your experience THEN WELCOME TO THE CLUB, you aren't in need of an exorcism or salvation because of these things, but you must answer this: will you let these things STOP you, will you let them KEEP you from eating at the KING's TABLE? FIGHT!!!! Walk around if you have too, do 50 jumping jacks, set an alarm every five minutes, drink some energy drinks, blast a light in your face, go outside, run in place: (by the way these are some of my routines :) )
From what i have learned of others (especially older men who have fought well) the older you get: the easier it gets!? WELL the "ROUTINE" of FIGHTING gets easier, but the FIGHT itself is always fierce and may get more fierce. It's not that the fight is so hard, but it's the actual fighting that's hard. Witnessing isn't hard, the hard part is starting. "resist the devil and he will flee from you.." the problem is many aren't actively resisting, or you might say they aren't doing enough to PREVENT him!
Just beware of throwing out a routine because it becomes mechanical (singing can be like that: would you advise just removing it altogether??) rather seek to know why it's become that way, and ask the Lord to remove that attitude and to give you delight. Whether your prayers are predictable or spontaneous, nevermind that as much as are they sincere, are they coming from actual present thoughts, concerns and desires?? There are times where i might pray like that and in the middle i just stop myself and really talk to God "Wait a minute, i don't even know what i was praying, i didn't even think about what i was saying, Lord my words have been empty I'm sorry Lord because i wasn't talking to you i was just going through the motions, but now Lord ............" something like that. blessings

Without grace?

The holiest of men are only a step away from a greivious fall! The holiness of any man is derived from the Lord and the Lord alone. As John the Baptist said "i must decrease, he must increase", the less of me, the more of Him. Yet this is certainly something that must never be forgotten, idolize no man's holiness, certainly don't assume his 'secret' is mysterious. You see a man that has given himself to God, you see a man who fears himself. What many might call legalism, this man calls safety and let not this be confused with weak faith because a man applies more principles in his life than others. The wise man doesn't ask the question "how far may i go?". I say this thinking much of my own neglect in upholding principles that may indeed be 'permissable' yet often they begin to take a toll on you, on your passion. Surely the Lord wishes you to be free from sin's influence, if that freedom causes you to rest in Him, but He will wisely torment us if it only leads to our laziness. The Lord calls each man to active duty, to active pursuit of Him, to an active faith.
Yet again how amazing it is that the worth of Christ is so great, that God is so abundant in love towards His elect that we nevertheless our failures are loved with a perfect love. The very obedient life of Christ credited towards our account, what a thought (how infinitely mysterious).
There is a song (yes another Christian rap piece from the group: Everyday Process) that really points out the grace of God: here is a small piece
I could have been a slave to my own lust
Hooked on drugs, sweeping it under the rug…unwilling to own up
Or maybe a pedophile.
A sadistic misfit who gets kicks out of tryin’ to sex a child
I’d be who the devil’s usin’. Believin’ evolution
Screamin’ revolution for no apparent reason
Maybe an irresponsible parent even
Or a fool grippin’ a tool (a gun) instead of finishin’ school
My story could have come
To me livin’ a criminal lifestyle slapped with a mandatory minimum
My friends would have come
To my funeral cuz I tried to be tough in a gun fight and didn’t run

Have you ever considered what you would have been without grace? Even what you were was not all that you could have been. I made the remark yesterday at the juvenile jail that if i was asked what sins i had then (while i was lost) i probably could have come up with a couple, but to look back at that time, it's amazing to think of all the sin i was committing (now especially looking through biblical eyes). Yet even then my intents were way beyond my actions, my willingness was way beyond my actions- for me the one constraint that i had was a father i believed would have killed me if i did most of them- yet i really really considered doing a lot of things. Whether you know it or not, it's the same for you. In fact each man is TOTALLY depraved, meaning he is a natural enemy of God, a child of wrath (only deserving), yet each man isn't as BAD as he COULD be and WOULD be (without the restraint of God -common grace-). The darkness of sin could not be exaggereated the great amount of wrath deserved from God COULD NOT be exaggerated, and in this light and in only a biblical definition of SIN and JUDGMENT can any man VALUE GRACE! THis is why i will NEVER stop SOUNDING THE ALARM that we MUST PREACH the TRUE GOSPEL! "you mean for the lost?" not primarily, but for the RIGHTEOUS that they may be MORE motivated to PURSUE God!
Think upon sin, and specifically sin in YOU, think of all YOUR wickedness, of all that you COULD AND WOULD have done apart from the GRACE of God, think, think, think, and then after you are CRUSHED then turn to consider meditating on the grace of God, the love of God. One reason i say this is because NOW i want to ask you whether you can 'relate' to the worst of the worst? Can you now relate to the murderer, the homosexual, the rapist, the drug dealer, the extortionist, the alcholic, the wife beater, the cheat, the low down schemer, the immoral 'succesful' lawyer, even the car salesman (just kiddin)? Well can you relate? YES absolutely YES, you CAN relate because you also were a rebel towards God, you too fought as a enemy to the throne, you were a terrorist to the kingdom of heaven. Don't ever buy the garbage that the best person to teach you something is the one who's gone through it, the ex-thug should go after other thugs, the intellectual should go after other intellectuals --->that isn't biblical! Don't ever let it cross your mind "i wonder if i could reach this person?" OF COURSE you can't you baboon! Only the Lord can, stop thinking about YOU. Nor "I wonder if this person could ever get saved?" that's nothing but unbiblical hypocrisy, each man needs a radical miracle in order to be saved. That type of thinking is as ridiculous as thinking "man this person is so close" CLOSE?? What in the world is CLOSE to being BORN AGAIN, to being REGENERATED, to being BROUGHT FROM DEATH TO LIFE, to being TRANSFERRED FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT???????? No such thing, do all things in the sight of God, believing as He has promised!
Thank you Jesus for your matchless grace!

Churches needed

There seems to be an increase of frustration concerning the church at large- a real examining of what is called 'church' in America.
It seems there are two predominant groups pointing out these flaws of the American church. One group are those who abandon church altogether, they use the problems as justification for not doing anything or not being involved in anything. These are those who crave to hear all these problems pointed out, but wouldn't give anything to see these things changed. These are those who when asked what a church should look like, only reveal their own shallowness. The question is NOT what kind of church would you like to attend, but WHAT is a biblical church, WHAT needs to be in a church in order to fulfill the requirements of scripture. Then YOU must answer the question: Do you want the same kind of church God wants? Unfamiliar? Yeah so what? There are things that you must get over, like style of worship (simple, choir, standing, sitting, contemporary, hymns, hands raised etc..)-things that have more to do with preference then God's glory. For a short and sweet summary:
NOW let me say this: There is an incredible need for true churches in America. Churches that are centered upon the glory of God. Churches you feel absolutely comfortable inviting people to or recommending: those types of churches ARE NOT in abundance. THE mission field is EVERYWHERE, we are commissioned to go, disciple and teach. Considering foreign missions that work, which are those that plant biblical churches in places that have no such privileges. As Paul Washer often says "These people don't NEED YOU, they need TRUTH", brother Paul tells of the time (which have been many) a young man calling and telling him they he wanted to join brother Paul on the mission field (when he was a missionary to Peru), Paul had asked him about his studies the young man replied 'well that's not really my strong point, i just want to give my life away', Paul replied "no one needs you life, they need truth!" I just love that, it's so biblical. We should be concerned with the fruit being produced, we should be doing all we can to do to be fruitful-keep this in mind when you consider who you support.
The NEED in America is for biblical churches that preach the gospel, that are Spirit-driven, not driven by numbers, not satisfied with a bunch of people professing Christ, but RISKING all to confront each and every person with the gospel and with the the revelation of JESUS CHRIST.
Are you willing to do something about the lack of TRUE churches (the lack of fulfilling the great commission), would you support those who want to plant biblical churches? Pastors are you looking to raise up leaders within your congregation that will be ready to plant true churches? I'm not a satellite church fan, churches that have a screen where someone preaches because they can't hold as many people in their sanctuary (i understand there are some good teachers that do this), this is in my estimate is a failure to pour into other men that are called to the ministry.
The great commission is NOT: share a flash gospel with as many people as you can, so you can sleep better at night and then feel important during testimony time because you had a lot of decisions. PEOPLE ARE NOT NUMBERS!!! I don't think there are many people who when the first time they were witnessed to (or what's called that) get saved. Yet because many are pulling for a 'salvation prayer' at the end (or inviting someone to a special event with an salvation by prayer altar call) it leaves people only hearing something of the gospel ONCE then from that point on they feel as though they 'got IT', from there they walk about unconcerned and secure and when someone tries to confronts them with the gospel they reply "don't worry about me, I'm saved!" and the average Christian in America would reply "OK, praise the Lord" What's the problem? THE PROBLEM IS THAT THESE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE A CHANCE TO HEAR THE TRUE GOSPEL, A COMPLETE GOSPEL, AN EXAMINING GOSPEL, BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T CARE THAT THE CHURCH YOU LEFT THEM AT IS NOT PREACHING THOSE TRUTHS!!!!! So the problem only continues, and the name and meaning of Christian is further clouded and redefined! It's the same as a family that has children that are malnourished and neglected, that hears of the great need out there of adoptions, so decides they will adopt a group of children! Immediately you see the problem with that right? Yet this is exactly how evangelism is predominately viewed.

Here is a conference I would personally recommend above all the other conferences that I know of: I WILL be going this TIME! The past conferences (dvds) have been very resourceful, convicting, passionate, and to the point:

Well i we could go on for hours about this (which Macarthur says, is what a preacher says when he's run out of material). No but seriously, i got some other thoughts from other angles that i'll post later.

Friday, October 24, 2008

theology: Unsearchable?

Roms 11:33,34
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"

Theology? hmm Let me first make this comment: that here Paul made this comment, not after a long list of guesses or of opinions but of a very systematic progression of theology concerning the gospel.
Paul often prayed for the saints in many of his letters that they would have a greater knowledge of God, Paul encouraged men to search the wisdom and knowledge of God. Yet Paul was certain that such search was unending- not useless, but infinite.
I must warn that our search MUST be limited to the written word of God, we don't gain 'new' insights beyond the word of God, and we certainly don't ever reach an end to our growth in knowledge from the word of God.
The word of God renews our minds, and i would suppose that new truths (that we personally didn't see before) become more evident because we read them with a more renewed mind. Of course the Lord has His timing in revealing things, yet we must not forget that often the lack of knowledge is more from lack of interest.
It should be simple enough to describe theology as the study of God (being the one true God, we study God through the scriptures). It has been to my increasing FRUSTRATION to hear the word THEOLOGY as a negative word, which makes no sense whatever unless you have no intention to teach ANYTHING from the word of God.
If you desire to grow in your love, pursuit, and conformity of God, then you MUST pursue theology, you must NEVER be satisfied with the knowledge you have. One thing you must have: You must want to know the truth, ANY truth God has chosen to reveal: NOTHING should be considered unimportant (hard maybe, confusing, complex, but not useless). Statements like: "well this has been debated for centuries!" should not deter you, for WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? NOTHING!!! Everything has been debated, that doesn't mean there's no answer- the deity of Christ, the trinity, and every other doctrine has been debated throughout time by so-called Christians, so WHAT?! Search anyways, let yourself be convinced there is no answer by searching for it, by digging for it.
I have my reserves about the benefits of most seminaries: and this partly is why, because some come out only knowing what they have been taught (carbon copys of their professors), well that's not good enough, the truths you hold dear should be truths you have wrestled on your own. NOTHING absolutely NOTHING should be blindly accepted, you must be continually praying "LORD is THIS TRUE, IF NOT SHOW ME THE TRUTH, I WANT YOUR TRUTH".
I do believe SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY is the BEST, it looks at the bible as written by ONE that one being GOD; and answers the question, "what does the bible say about ......?". The only problem is not the system but assuming that EVERYTHING will be concise and simple. Indeed there are things, that God has reserved for His mind alone, and has not revealed them to us perhaps because we are incapable of grasping such things. We run into problems when we reach an end of a revealed doctrine and attempt to go further by philosophy (this is what i in my ignorance thought all theology was until i learned better).
We must keep BALANCE: keep in mind that balance in the word of God does not mean 50/50, so to look at the word like that will have you constantly contradicting yourself. There are things that have clear overarching truths, or clear deep foundations: such as God's sovereignty OVER our responsibility, such as Faith under works (true faith producing works). We should seek to be extreme (to add emphasis) where God is, and to be softer (give less emphasis) to the things God does. We look for harmony in all things, while keeping in mind that we may be left without an end or an beginning. In fact we will often find that there are things that we aren't naturally comfortable with, truths or even replies that just don't sit well with the flesh. Statements like: Roms 9:20-21
20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
I'm God, I have the right to do as i please! Is that ok with You? Does that sit well, GOT OBJECTIONS? well get OVER IT!!! Does that shock you that i said that? Unfortunately as i've said before, we have a tendency to want to clean up God, as though we were image consultants for the most high. He's a King, and He has all authority and deserves all worship. When i'm asked a 'question' about some truth of God from a "skeptic": which has happened often in jail settings (with teens or adults), there might also be some who will interject 'you can't question God, you just have to believe' and to a certain extent they are right. Although i'll usually precede my answer by this: "This question may be what many of you are thinking and we're afraid to ask, God has no objections to sincere questions, but i'll tell you this first: there are two types of people or questions, One that is acceptable by God, which is asking because it really wants the truth and is ready to believe and obey that truth and the other is WICKED, some questions are an excuse to ignore what you KNOW is true and you're trying to avoid that TRUTH." Then i will answer quickly and move back to the subject at hand, let none off the hook, put sovereign (salvation) truths before them and don't let them distract you from that.
The EXTREMES have usually come from rationalizing one truth against another truth, which leaves you ignoring the examples or teachings of the apostles. This should keep you biblically balanced: The teaching of scripture AND the example of the Apostles. For instance, "how does the Sovereignty of God in salvation and Evangelism work?" Rest in the testimony of scripture, by upholding God's power and purpose while following the example of the apostles, who preached with passion and made clear declarations. Without this balance you'll either not evangelize ignoring the commands to do so and disregarding the examples of the apostles OR you'll think evangelism is a 'ART' of man and you'll (with the norm of today) use marketing gimmicks, psychology, entertainment, celebrities, and manipulation to GET decisions, ignoring the truths of scripture and the teachings of the Apostles.
In otherwords you interpret each text within it's narrow context of a passage, then of the book, and then of the bible as a whole, but NEVER forgetting the bible as a whole since it's harmonious an as I've stated ONE book.
Too be expected there will always be those who think that it's silly to try to study the word of God looking for doctrinal accuracy, and they make some reasonable statements, reasonable in a carnal sort of way, reasonable IF the BIBLE was not INSPIRED and SUFFICIENT. Too often these statements are made by those who don't study or cherish the word and have grown up on milk or popular phrases by popular teachers who give their popular theology which is no theology at all! (I touched some things i hope to give a lot more detailed posts to in the future-but it's late so: that's all folks!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Preach with an intent

This may apply to both preachers and all who may share the gospel (one on one).
Perhaps i'll elaborate more (on some themes) some other time; but for now some Quick thoughts.

Preaching: a means like no other, a means that God has so ordained and blessed throughout history that little could be said to elevate it any more. Yet we live in a day where preaching is NOT valued, people don't want IN YOUR FACE biblical preaching. They want video clips, and warm or funny stories even if they have NOTHING at all to do with the text. Rare to find those who are hungering after a WORD from the LORD that's OUT of HIS WORD! Too many bible verses, too long, too personal, too precise, too dogmatic, too intolerant, too serious, on and on the complaints come, and from whom? Usually the stale and mean spirited church member who's always letting the preacher know what time it is, or if a song was too long, something is always wrong unless it's short.
I'm not opposed to various methods as long as they are God honoring. Yet there are too many so-called ministries out there that give the impression that they are a SOLUTION to the PREACHING problem. Some will appeal to the LACK of interest in preaching, or the LACK of attention modern people have, or the LACK of comprehension young people have, or the LACK of excitement and entertainment it can bring. I'll give them one thing only: I too am sick of BORING (lifeless) preaching, and I don't mean a certain temperament (some shout, some are quiet whatever) no I mean they have no visible passion (excitement, zeal, love) for the scriptures, for Christ, and for people. If you don't have ALL of these then you have no business preaching. PREACHING MUST BE DONE WITH AN INTENT TO GLORIFY GOD, TO SAVE, TO SANCTIFY, TO EMBOLDEN, TO PRAISE, TO CONVINCE, TO TEACH, TO MOVE PEOPLE. This is done while knowing that we are but vessels of grace, that we can only water and plant, yet we do this actively following the example of the apostles and of our Lord.
NOTHING is a substitute for preaching, because it's a means of grace, it is a work that is blessed by God, given by Christ, applied by the Holy Spirit. In preaching the Holy Spirit goes to work, the Holy Spirit brings the truth home, the Holy Spirit can compel a man or child to listen and listen intently. The Holy Spirit is the one who draws, it is the Spirit who bears witness to the truth. The problem with any ministry that downplays preaching is that it actually IGNORES the ministry of the Holy Spirit in preaching. Not too many ministry positions can claim much biblical ground, but preachers can: for Christ gave some to be Pastors and Teachers (or Pastor-teachers). In fact Paul anticipated (by the revelation of God) days like this, indeed there is nothing new under the sun: Yet what would Paul advise the church to do, when there is a decline of interest in preaching, in sound doctrinal preaching?
2 Tim 4:2,3a 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine
What a terrible business man Paul would have been 'hey Paul i got a problem, we've tried plan A and it's not working the majority have voted that they don't want Plan A, and we know the customer is always right so what would you recommend? STICK TO PLAN A!!!!
Precisely this is the way to go, this is the PRIMARY means God uses to bring men to salvation and brings men to more fruitfulness.
I like what Ravenhill said 'If Christ came today he would cleanse the temple of money changers, he'd cleanse the pulpits" Amen to that.
Preacher!!! Preach! For whom do you preach? THE GLORY OF GOD! that's good. What ELSE? Uhh uhh FOR saints!? YES!! WHO ELSE? FOR the LOST to be saved?!? OF COURSE!! Don't you forget it either.
Preach with an intent: Preach everytime expecting GOd to do something mighty, Preach to show people the GLORY of GOD, Preach to REVEAL the GOSPEL, Preach to see saints GROW IN GODLINESS, and Preach to longing for SINNERS to come TO SALVATION!!!
What is going through your mind when you preach (or share the gospel), it shouldn't be the same kind of thing that goes through your mind when you give a speech at work or at school. Is there a trembling, a fear of God, whereby you want to be sure that you are speaking truth? There should be! Is there a longing in your heart for people to fall in love with the scriptures, specifically the Christ of the scriptures? Is there a longing (a burden) for souls to saved?
Don't tell me about your love of truth if you have no love for those receiving it. What do you think of your hearers, i beg you to evaluate the amount of concern you have for them.
We must have an intent, we must not be satisfied with what we see and then trying to hide behind the Sovereignty of God as an excuse for our apathy. Praise GOd for those who labor over the word and pour out their hearts for the people who will hear it.
Be more concerned with the effect then with your delivery, never sacrificing sound doctrine. If you have to leave the text, then leave it, but don't ignore what you feel compelled to speak. Drive truth home with an intent for understanding; don't just say what you want to say, but say what you want them to hear! Sometimes you need to be undignified, and preach like a madman, there should be times where the urgency for change is so great that you chuck your sermon and preach the sermon that's been boiling inside of you.
Word of caution: There are those who like to shock just for the sake of shocking. There are those that like 'hard' preaching, kinda of like it's a type of music; of course they don't apply much to their own lives, they just listen for the preacher to point out the things they already complain about. "yeah the church is weak", "yeah we need real preaching these days", "yeah no one is reaching the teens" "yeah that's wrong, that's sin" :yet they aren't helping, they aren't grieving over these things they just want to be around other bitter do-nothings.
Preaching isn't a game where finally you can follow in the steps of someone you've always coveted to be like. Don't try to preach like Spurgeon or Tozer or any of these other men who could preach with razor sharpness or rose petal sweetness. Preaching is not the end, it's the means: yet we preach with the end in mind! We preach striving to be faithful (although it may seem to have no effect), yet at the same time we preach expecting change. We certainly don't preach what works (pragmatism) , we preach truth hoping that truth works.
Do you preach with a burden? Do you preach with rejoicing? Do you preach with weeping? There should often be a flood of emotions that almost take over when you preach something because it's so real to you. There is a blessing in preaching that is fruitful for the one who is preaching. There should be times of pleading with such intensity that you could feel like shaking people if you thought it might help.
If you lack these things then ask of God for them, search the scriptures to evaluate the attitude and intents of the prophets, and the apostles. Consider their anguish, consider their burdens, and follow their example. Surely there are many things that could be said to help these issues: like holy living, prayer, fellowship, self-examination, and solid doctrinal study of the word.

Preaching and Preachers by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is my ultimate book recommend
For something smaller (only $2 go for "what's wrong with preaching today", by Albert Martin or listen to the audio of it preached:

True Fellowship

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another
Proverbs 9:8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Proverbs 28: 23Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.

It has been said 'he who loves you the most is he who tells you the most truth."
Yet how hard it is to receive that truth, how odd it is to be given the truth. Even more than that how hard it is to give that truth.
How do you view rebuke, is there a way you want it or do you long to hear truth no matter how?
Paul Washer recently made the comment how many people try to excuse themselves from rebuke by stating 'how' the person said it, NOT whether it's true. That is a MAJOR difference and a MAJOR problem.
There is nothing sweeter than true fellowship, it is indeed a means of grace and it's something that has to be sought and fought for. True fellowship is not easy. When you consider the many admonitions of how believers in Christ should support, encourage, rebuke, stir up, pray for and help one another, you must realize that such a duty cannot be supplied by the best of churches. I mean no program can facilitate such a thing. After all the groups, after the church meet times, whom do you fellowship with? With whom do you pour your heart out with, with whom do you sharpen?
Privacy, Privacy, Privacy--Hogwash!!! It's all garbage, we have gotta to strive to live more OPEN lives, or else who could really challenge us when they only see our church face?
Even true church discipline can't be carried out (which is to restore believers and uphold the glory of God through His bride), when we aren't rubbing shoulders with other believers.
Passing conversations just won't do, those conversations are so awkward when another brother (or sister) asks you a 30min question and you know they plan to walk away in 2mins- so you revert to the same ol' typical chit chat.
True Fellowship is a means of humility, yes indeed it exposes are faults, yet it helps us when those we love can point those things out that we are either ignoring or blind to. I for one am quick to defend myself, yet after i can't escape the remarks and am forced to reevaluate it by the truth. There's nothing like the good fruit that comes out of being rebuked or even the good fruit (and the bond) of giving rebuke to someone who welcomes it.
On the other hand it's so hard to give rebuke, when it's not welcomed. Even though you may tremble to give it, you may have tried to put it off yet God won't let you shake it, for me personally it's like i have the whole conversation already in full circulating through my mind, and after much struggle i give it. What's odd is when people pretend to want it, but that's not what they really mean. Indeed I've heard countless ministers that have stated how they wish people would point out things they see, especially if it's error: few there are that seem to be honest in saying that. I wonder how many out there are frustrated at all the complements because they feel people are flattering them, not being honest, and they would rather hear some helpful rebuke? hmmm
Brother, Sister who could rebuke you? When you talk with others do you only give certain details so the only thing people could do is encourage you? Are you leaving out some areas that you know need addressed. Surely we could avoid a lot of gossip if only we'd be more open to giving and receiving rebuke.
Note: I hope when the word rebuke is stated that you are able to look at that word without reserve, but joyfully. Even many parents have ruined and are ruining their children's lives because they don't equate rebuke with love. Many shepherds hardly ever face a church discipline issue because they won't adopt a biblical view of rebuke. Many preachers are nothing but fuzzy cheerleaders who won't address the real problems, at the most they might drop some hints and this because they refuse to acknowledge the biblical mandate of rebuking.
IT'S not easy, but it's necessary, it will not only humble the one receiving but it will humble the one giving it.
If it is easy then you have no business doing it, I mean of course that if you have a thirst for blood, for strife then you've totally missed it. It's not a 'Christian" way of knocking (slamming, insulting) someone. What is the INTENT? The intent should be to see restoration, to see healing, to see repentance, you rebuke with a broken heart.

Ps 73 a quick look

Here is certainly one of my favorite psalms
I'll paraphrase a lot, so it would be good for you to read Psalm 73
1Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Asaph or perhaps David shares exactly how he felt and then later reveals what came out of all of this;
Yet certainly all believers go through some of these same conflicts.
Here Asaph says: "There was a time, where i almost gave up, I almost lost all hope. This happened because i was envious of the wicked."
Here was a man, that could not grasp how these wicked men could reap such blessings. They seemed to have it all, they sinned without punishment and then boasted about it later. These men continue to manipulate, lie, and scheme without consequence. In his eyes it seemed the wicked were blessed and the righteous were cursed.
13All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.14For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.
Asaph felt as though his attempts for righteous living were for nothing, not only lacking a good reward, but in turn only making his life worse. In other words this psalm was an extended pout (a me party). Ever have those?
Ever feel like this? Do you ever feel as though, you've been sold short? If you have i hope it was only passing, surely i don't think a true believer could stay in this state.
For who might this effect? All!!! of course!
Let's get specific: the Minister who is pouring his heart into a flock that hasn't grown in years, laboring over each text, weeping over each soul, disciplining, counseling, to the point of exhaustion and yet people are whining about the length of the sermon, or how you didn't visit them, and so on. Or perhaps you're the one who's given your heart to defending the faith only to receive back nods, but no fruit, you watch as charming and entertaining heretics get the ears of the people.
The single adult who faithfully prepares themselves trying to restrain from compromising situations, pleading with the Lord for a godly mate, only to see their wicked peers getting married and being blessed with children in what seems to be a great marriage.
The Married person who seeks the Lord daily, for help, strength, faithfulness, change, and yet you see and hear of the ungodly growing in happiness, and in affection.
The godly worker trying to honor the Lord in going far beyond what is required, faithfully tithing and giving offerings only to see someone else get the promotion, or even being unexpectedly laid off.
The list could go on, yet this is a reality. Certainly this reality is one reason among many that the prosperity gospel is so damaging.
For some there is no turning point for them in their circumstances, it is simply the lot God has chosen for them to endure. This must never be forgotten, too many live in a constant state of confusion because they are trying to evaluate their walk or fruit by their circumstances.
We could look at these times with the same frustrations as Asaph and complain "but God this isn't fair, shouldn't I your child be more blessed then the wicked", "God look at these rebels, are they never judged?" "God i just can't go on, this is absolutely useless, I'm not the one"
Yet praise be to God this is not the END! Asaph declares that he would be a deceiver if spoke this way, although it still confused him. UNTIL!!!!!!!!!!
17until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
Ahhh THIS is the turning point, this is where everything in life is brought into it's proper perspective: In the presence of GOd. In the light of eternity the things of this dark world can be seen clearly. This is what it means to have a biblical worldview, a view that weighs what is seen and heard by the standard of absolute truth- the word of God. In the presence of GOd Asaph saw the mist rise, and he saw the end of the wicked. Consequently he saw the end of the righteous as well. The end of the wicked is swift, as Thomas Watson put it, 'they are fattened for the slaughter", their blessings are like drugs which give them some sort of comfort while killing them softly. Envy is not what we should feel towards the wicked, for they have NOTHING!! We should only feel pity, in the words of Mr. T "i pity the fool" Truly they are fools seeking and getting excited over 'fools' gold. All their comforts, all their wealth, all their luxuries will serve to give them nothing but regret on the day they stand before Almighty God. The richest of the world have one thing in common to all men, when they die they will all have nothing. I often tell men at the jails, that it may very well be a blessing that they have been put there, perhaps God has shown mercy by punishing you (or capturing you) and causing you to hear the gospel. I'll tell them that the worst thing that could happen in this life is to be left alone by God, to go through this life fast and high without any wake up calls, without reaping consequences, only to be awoken by the final judgment of God.
22 I was brutish and ignorant;I was like a beast toward you.
He says as we could say, in our pity party, in our wicked complaints, in our hardness we were acting like ignorant beasts: how dare we who have experienced the amazing grace of God ever forget His faithfulness, His goodness, his love and wisdom.
In his repentance Asaph declares that God has been good to him, He has held him up, He has provided for him. Can we not too remember all the mercies of God (new every morning) towards us, in keeping us, in causing us to endure, in putting up with all our whining and yet giving us grace.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Here is one of those scriptures that could inflame a weary heart. Meditate on this verse when things seem out of whack. This is a declaration, a heartcry that should be said with pure passion, with tears, with great excitement, while jumping and spinning, while on your knees! hallelujah! God is the only treasure available, He is altogether lovely, altogether wonderful, he alone is to be sought after. In all our weakness, He upholds us, He pushes us, He works in us: We can't give up, He won't let us. All we need, all we should want!
To the wicked: one thing must be grasped and that is they are trading the eternal for the temporal, the true treasure for that which will turn to dust. As for their schemes and apparent escape from judgment; be reminded that GOD IS NOT MOCKED they will REAP what they SOW, either in this life or in the life to come, not one sin will be left unpunished by the Judge of all the Earth.
To the righteous: don't grow weary in doing good --you will reap (Gal 6:7-9 covers both examples I've just stated) In our struggle let us go QUICKLY to the throne of grace for help, being ANXIOUS for nothing but giving all thing to the Lord with thanksgiving (let's daily give thanks for what has been done for us and what is yet to be done---this will alleviate a lot of discontent).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Balancing Prayer and Ministry?????

I was thinkin about this from hearing this stated several times recently and hearing this from many different places over my Christian walk.
I think we somethimes say things as Christians that we don't really mean, or really ever thought about.
One of those things is the balance betwwen prayer and ministry, or devotion and study. Yet i must say that i have great reserves when i hear someone say this because I have never met ANYONE that spent TOO MUCH time in DEVOTION (or in prayer). I've never even heard someone's life from HISTORY used as a example of someone who spent TOO much time with GOD. The balance we can't seem to find is not devotion and study or prayer and ministry: It's self (flesh) satisfaction over soul satisfaction. It's the ordering of things eternal, most fruitful, most enjoying, over against things temporal, fruitless, and unfulfilling.
More than anything we suffer lack of humility, lack of discipline- we are too satisfied with compromise, with fruitless ruts, with knowledge. Oh Lord humble us, I pray.

I was reading this with my wife last night (from Maurice Roberts) and thought "this is good"!
Christ- Lover of our souls
(from page 6- i think)
'Even so today it is fearfully possible for a believer to be heavily involved in the fight against ecumenism or secularism or a thousand other evil things and yet to lose the tone and edge of his spirituality. But what does the Lord require of us? Is it not that we should walk clos to Him? Let no one imagine that the spending of much time conscientiously in daily fellowship with Christ will result in loss of service. Time spent with God in the secret place is never the cause of spiritual inefficiency. On the contrary, it is the highway to fresh vision and to new triumphs. 'To have prayed well is to have studied well'. This motto was Luther's and announces to us the secret of his immense labours and abounding faithfulness.

Brother, sister, will you read of Spurgeon, of Edwards, of Mcheyne, of Martyn lloyd-Jones (his wife testifying that he was FIRST a man of prayer), of the Puritans and IGNORE their examples. Do you not sense the drawing of the Father? have you never longed for His presence? I'll fight for doctrine till the day i die and fight for the furtherance of good theology, but if you won't SEEK His face, study all you want, get all the degrees you want but don't expect much unction, in preaching!! Give em God, pass the passion!!! Surely the desire HAS to be there, it wasn't their style, it wasn't their intelligence: It was their PURSUIT of Him that set them apart. How long has it been?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

great hindrance to the gospel

I just want to throw out some thoughts concerning the gospel;

It seems to me that what often hinders the gospel today is the incredible emphasis on methods and the incredible amt of labels placed on people.

"What will be most effective for this person?, What do they like?, Where did they come from?, are they atheist?, postmodern?, new age?, secular humanist?, evolutionist?, hip-hop?, grunge?, Gothic?, pantheist, etc......"

What most of this has done and all the seminars and series on these subjects has caused the majority feel as though they could not possibly reach anyone until they know all these things. For many it has become a major stumbling block of inability, and a major idolization of intellectuals who do know these things.

Is America gospel hardened from hearing the gospel so much? NO NO NO NO not at all!

Now some will say that and mean that there are plenty of people that have never heard of Christ, yet I'm thinking of the people that HAVE heard of Him yet have no clue who He is. They know phrases and words, but have no clue to their meanings. It's only natural then for those people to adopt their own meanings for such words-meanings that are not biblical!

IS the problem that we don't share the gospel enough? NOT FOR MOST PEOPLE! It would be better for most people to STOP sharing what they call the gospel, some people only share cliche's and others talk about things contained in the gospel but they don't share the gospel. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that there is a world of difference between preaching 'about' the gospel and preaching the 'gospel'.

If only people KNEW the gospel, and were TAUGHT the gospel (not TAUGHT a method of sharing)- even tracts can be unfruitful if they are vague and not understandable.

When People can grasp the fundamentals of the gospel, then and only then can they share effectively. Effective meaning: honestly and fully presenting the truth and presenting it in the right spirit, being faithful to glorify God. Effective is not contingent upon the response, although we should greatly desire the salvation of many.
If only this could be central to the training of disciples, how glorifying to Him it would be.
In sharing the gospel, be satisfied with nothing short of salvation; contained in the many false views of salvation- people will often feel they have made major leaps by joining a church, getting baptized, buying a study bible, or giving up something. Let this NEVER be seen as a victory, if their were such 'steps', then what do you get when you are 'just a step away' from salvation? (Wrath and Fury). I can't tell you the many heartbreaks I've had (and many others have had) because someone did such a thing and then STOPPED! If you see this or hear this, use it as an opportunity to (once again) declare the gospel.
Need help? read and listen to really good evangelists (not for a method, but for the truths they often bring up)---- Good not meaning POPULAR (for the most part leave the tv and radio alone).
WHAT IS NEEDED TO GRASP? Grasp these truths and you will be equipped to begin preaching the gospel.
Biblical view of the Character of God (His holiness, Justice, Sovereignty, Grace and Love...)
Biblical view of Man (his sin nature, his LOVE of sin, his KNOWLEDGE of God, his helplessness, his hopelessness, his DESERVING of wrath)
Biblical view of Repentance, Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification and Glorification
I believe it was Spurgeon who made the point that until you are able to explain something to a child, you don't really know it! WHAT? That's simply to say that instead of remembering phrases and methods which once you use them you run out of things to say, you chew and digest the truths. You give yourself to studying such fundamental doctrines so that when you proclaim the gospel, you can explain in many different ways the same truths until they are understandable. HARD WORK? Perhaps, but delightfully hard work, which won't only equip you to reach the lost, and discern those you might want to support, but also to reach your family. One thing more: the GOSPEL is a MEANS (tool) of GRACE for the believer, to think upon, to speak about such things has a sanctifying effect, that is what it means to set our eyes upon the cross. Time will cause you to be MORE effective, but it doesn't have to take months and years for you to grasp such things.

Book recommend? Well Justification and Regeneration by Charles Leiter (to the point and short). Holiness by J.C. Ryle, this book came at an incredible turning point for me (theologically) I began to see things I never saw before and was confronted with tons of examples of preaching the gospel (i took the day off from work because I spent all night reading this...) Yes I'd recommend more but that's all--- i hope to be able to recommend more sermons as well.

Fighting Sin ---Mortification

The fight against sin: Here are some thoughts that I hope may be useful.
I have purposely wrote this to be broad so that it could be better applied otherwise you might only think about the things I bring up. Of course you could just read John Owen on temptation and sin (tons of reader levels to choose from).

Here are some statements, some realities that are crucial to grasp if you are ever to truly fight against temptation and sin.

God desires your victory
Some seem to be perfectly 'satisfied' with confession, as though that was the end of all the power that has been availed to believers in Christ. Confession is not the end all, don't EVER be satisfied with that, fight to WIN!
1 Pet 1:15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
2 Cor 13:11
God wants your humility, (He will use things to humble you)
Maturity in Christ simply means more dependency on Christ, we don't become more self-sufficient. Our growth is revealed by how much we depend on Christ.
John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
2 Cor 12:7b, 9a,10b …to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me…, …He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”… For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

What you face is 'common' to man
You have no unique sin, no traumatic experience that separates your fight against sin from the rest of mankind, making yours more difficult (of course we could thank psychology for helping us 'wrongly' think like this, a great excuse to not believe). Besides that, the supply of grace is endless (God is not and cannot be limited by upbringing, environment, peers, finances, sickness or anything else).
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

What you face God has already provided the solution for it in His word.
Again nothing is unique, God is not surprised by what we see. Although it must be said that the solution may be ignored because it's 'extreme' (in comparison to the evangelical world). Let nothing be withhold from the spotlight of God's conviction, regardless of how innocent it could be explained
2 Tim 3:16,17 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The only final victory is in glory, until then we must fight continuously (endure as a soldier) We fight striving for victory, striving to win each battle, with full knowledge that the war never ends. Yet we fight looking for and expecting a day of great rest, our blessed hope!
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
2 Tim 2:3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

God desires all the means of grace to be used for your benefit: private study, prayer, confession, examination, preaching, fellowship of believers, and the church.

All known sin must be repented of and fought against
Don't be foolish enough to think that you have choices in sin, it could be easy to choose the one which brings the most harm to you or others and leave alone the rest; yet this will not work, sin is against the Lord and we must seek to be cleansed before Him in all things.

Sin attitudes must be sought out and also fought against
We must not only focus on outward sin, but inward sin- the pride, the lust, the self idolatry, the seeking of the praise of men, the coldness toward the lost, the hypocrisy of judging other believers unfairly, the discontent, the trusting in self, the selfishness, the unbelief, the laziness and much much more.

You must search for the roots of sins: Company you keep, conversations you have, places you go, things you watch, and things you listen to. All these are gateways that influence your thoughts, focus and direction.

Once these things are realized and you face them honestly: you must ask yourself in which way will I fight these temptations; some by standing and others by fleeing.
Don't allow pride to keep you from running, even when others would say it's 'permissible'. Don't wonder why they seem to not be affected by such things (they’re probably just covering it up good) that absolutely overwhelm you.
We do all this by the grace of God, being empowered by the Spirit of God, and to the credit of God alone. We do this as we remember Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. We purify ourselves looking to Christ and all He has done and will do, John said it best:
I John 3:1-3
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. 3 And every one that has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worthless or worthy reading?

Hello again: As usual i'd like to challenge, convict and encourage you out there with some thoughts that have been stirring in my mind.
Reading books (including all things: articles, blogs, whateva), listening to sermons, and going to conferences for WHAT?
The pursuit of godliness MUST be supreme in all we do, I propose that much of what is done is done without much thought or much evaluation.
I don't know about you but I don't personally feel like i have an abundance of 'free' time, my time is valuable to me (although without hesitation i could say i'm still very lax in my use of what i have).
With that said: Why do you pick a book? Are you just looking for things that will confirm what you already know? Reading only those things that stress the problems you are already seeing?
YET, how much time do you give to reading (or listening to) those things which you presume will convict and nurture you? Do you tend to avoid those books? Are you prone to reading entertaining books or merely intellectual books?
Consider your most favorite books or books you are quick to recommend: ARE THEY FRUITFUL? How exactly did they affect you?
ADVICE? Well i would refer to Macarthur's Q&A at a conference: A young man who was in ministry but had not had opportunity to attend seminary asked Dr. MacArthur what he would recommend to this man so he could continue learning and growing. MacArthur's answer was that this pastor should find godly men he admires and read what they read.
This is what i look for, but not just what they recommend (sometimes that's only the freshest book in their memory) but i listen to what really affected them, or what they quote often. I can't count all the times i heard Puritans quoted and so i sought out the best, or Martyn lloyd-Jones, or this biography or that classic. Take for instance John Piper (a pretty good preacher) who does he most recommend? Well the two that he's often said has the most effect on him are OWEN and EDWARDS: personally I'd rather read from the people that effected these men then to read these men. I like Piper, I like Macarthur but if i was to choose something to read then i'd go to the teachers that they refer to first. Why? Well most books today could be shortened very easily, they tend to much storytelling, not that that is wrong, but it's the norm for today. Yet for most older writers, the great majority of their writings is straight to the point. If you read Owen, Edwards, Watson, (i'd include Lloyd-Jones), Ryle, Pink, Bunyan and many more, to LOOK FOR THE CLIMAX would be futile, it's all climax! I can't tell you the many times i had a highlighter and thought "this is stupid I want to highlight the whole book", or wanting to send a quote and you can't seem to find a paragraph to start it or end it---THAT'S when you KNOW it's GOOD.
I say all this because i'm not a person who just flys through a lot of books (i have spurts where i can read a whole book-but mostly reading parts from several).
If you're like a Al Mohler and read almost everything then this doesn't apply perhaps, but i'm speaking to the normal people (and I don't envy that type of consumption).
Ministers don't just read for quotes in sermons: Your references should be mostly from scripture and quotes from recollection of things that have moved you, not something you googled to make a 'pretty' sermon. I've also heard the advice that if you want to learn to preach well, then read or listen to good preachers; Lloyd Jones had this line of thinking, he felt it was best just to ''show' someone then try to teach them some form. Ministers should also avoid reading things just to make them more intellectual (or intellectual sounding).
Let us read for the glory of God, let us spend much time reading what blesses us and will in turn bless others.
WARNING!!! Let no reading be a substitute for the word, also DON'T read hardly ANYTHING until you have a good grasp on the scriptures, get familiar with the word! Discernment comes from comparing ALL THINGS to the word of God. Forget all the compromising advice of taking it slow, Read large CHUNKS of the word, there should be times where you have BAGS under your eyes from late reading of the word.
GOT THEOLOGY? from where? and from whom? Is what you know ALL been taught to you? Have you wrestled any truths on your own, has anything really been dug out of your time in the scriptures? The best of schools are not sufficient, let none swap minds with you, you ABSOLUTELY have to EXAMINE all things in LIGHT of scripture, not YOUR SYSTEM.
RECOMMEND fruitful books to people, (personally i am extremely annoyed if i read through some book someone recommended and all it contained was about a paragraph of worthwhile writing). especially be careful with biblically ignorant people or new believers don't recommend some popular critique of something, give them a book with meat, a book full of truths in the gospel, a book full of life and searching statements!
By the way i'm not by nature a reader, i never like to read anything before conversion: but because of a MAJOR lack of good teaching, I wondered if anything good was out there, and I found much help in books. There are people that are hard to read, well then what? look for something easier? NO NO NO NO, Plead with the Lord to help you, and just keep trying (thankfully there are a lot of classics that are edited and updated to be more understandable), if anything is worth putting effort into, it's spiritual things, seek to be more disciplined. Keep in mind that some books that were hard to read a couple of months ago, just seem to come alive later on. Be blessed!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

a reminder poem-Choose this day

Another thing i wrote a while back that came to mind, i thought might be edifying for the body. My heart's desire is to be simple and to address things clearer or things rarely heard by the majority.
If you think 'wow this guy is really passionate for God', in a 'only God gets the glory' way yes, but truth be told some of these things have come at the lowest points of my walk.
This one specifically i wrote after a bitter repentance of repeated falls into the same lusts, i wrote it so i could print it up and for a time i used to read it every morning-may you too be blessed!

“Choose this day whom you will serve”
What will I choose today? Will I choose the One who choose me? The One who bore my filthy sins on a rugged cross? Will I choose to return the love to the One most deserving? Will I choose to sacrifice my life to the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?
I know what should be the answer, but what will the answer be today? Will I give in to my sinful flesh? Will I let those thoughts run their course, grieving the Spirit of God within me? Will I play with the fire and willfully pretend not to get burnt? Will I choose to pursue intimacy with the lover of my soul? Will I ignore the gentle wooing of the Spirit and continue breaking the holy law of God?
What will I choose life or death, a blessing or a curse? Can the Father be anymore patient with me then He has already? Will I forget how in need I am of the grace of God and that it’s by grace that I stand? Will I be more concerned with people finding out my sins than actually committing them? Will I choose to compare myself to others with my head up high or will I beat my breast declaring my unworthiness? Will I choose to indulge in the pleasures of this life or in the pleasing of God? Will I choose to abide in the One, without which I can do nothing? Will I just give lip service or will I choose to fear the Holy One? Surely, I must choose Christ, surely I must die today. Will I choose to forget the message of the cross for me? Will I choose to go back to my own vomit? Will I choose to obey through love or will I walk in vain religion? Will I choose to find delight in the presence of the Lord or will I just be a busy Martha? Today I must choose to sit at the Fathers feet, to minister with my tears and never to forget how filthy I was and still am! Father help me choose YOU!

Reality Check Sermon

Well this is my first recorded sermon, June 2008(except for my wedding---and the time i first met my wife, i preached she got saved but since it was only a handful i didn't use a mic- i have a silent video of it though) I wanted to have it on my front page but couldn't figure it out-- anyways if you find time to listen, may it bless you.

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Pursuit of HIM or knowledge

Below a quote from Lloyd-Jones:
My family in Christ i beg you in all your learning don't miss the pursuit of Him. Be careful to put your finger upon the reason you do what you do. WHAT IMPRESSES you? Is it Him!? Does you heart just explode with thoughts of Him, does it sometimes feel like you are on the road to Emmaus and Jesus is opening the scriptures to you as you read them (in context of course).
AGAINST this i warn: Let NONE be remembered for their passion for 'Theology, Calvinism, Lectures, Preaching, Reading or Activity, but for Christ, a hot zeal for knowing God. A man who isn't impressed with Christ, won't reach many people, he might reach other men who love classroom settings but that's all: He'll bore the common man, the teenager, the child, the wife, the mother, the older saints, he will be LIMITED to reaching ONLY those of like mind and temperament. Let me ask this: IF given the choice would you wish to have the mind of Solomon or the heart of David? When i think of a preacher, i don't CARE what school he went, or how many degrees he has, i have ONE question can he give me CHRIST (i don't mean it in a weird way). I like something Don Kistler always points out about the Puritans, how many of these men held prestigious degrees, yet they didn't refer to them or sign their books by them, they refereed to themselves as ministers of the gospel (something like that). WHY? Well for them (the good ones-there's a dark side to anything) theological study was just a means, and they used this mean to pursue God. That's why if i was to recommend reading to someone, especially to a very sound person i would direct him to the Puritans, because they were masters at applying theology, it was always used to humble, to convict, to motivate, and to convince men of God- Learn this art, learn how to engage the affections: HOW??? First you must recognize those you turn off (not the lost church member) but true believers, and repent of your cold-intellectualism, face the fact that you have CUT (removed, stolen) the heart from truth (you're not even stirred-sports stir you more) and then do something you probably don't do enough; SEEK THE FACE OF GOD and cry out for HIM! Don't intercede or give your list of wants, but pour out your heart begging God to reveal His presence to you (weird? No biblical, LIVE you stoic!) just commune with Him! Search the Psalms for the heart cries of knowing and experiencing God, Search the gospel, the epistles, the law and more for these longings.
You don't admire the men of past, you IDOLIZE them, because you won't go to HIM who they are pointing to, you won't use the means they used, you just parrot their words (without the power). Away with the thought that prayer is for women, or old guys, get in that closet and find great delight; Where I ask are the men who can say these things (have these EVER been your cries)
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple.
Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
Ps 84:2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
2 Cor 5:2,8 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Ex 33:18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
Lam 3: 24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.
Pursue HIM! SEEK Him! Enjoy HIM! Glorify HIM!
God bless you All
A quote from Martyn (the dr.) Lloyd-Jones (Puritans: their origins and their successors)
1 Corinthians 8:1-3:
‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he kn wet anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God the same is known of him.’

..............The same thing can apply also even in the process of studying theology. It can become just a subject set for an examination, or a subject essential to obtaining a certain degree or diploma. And the very fact that this is the system may result in a man viewing the knowledge of God entirely in this way. But even without examinations this is still a possibility. A man can take a purely academic and theoretical interest in theology. I have known many such men. They happen to have had that as their hobby, whereas others turned to crossword puzzles. It was essentially the same approach—there was no question about that at all. It was purely theoretical, and thus it had become this false type of ‘knowledge’. Are we entirely free from this danger?
The second particular cause is that we approach truth purely in terms of intellect—intellect only. There is nothing so dangerous as to isolate the intellect. We are all agreed about the priority of intellect. But there is all the difference in the world between our asserting its priority and talking only about intellect and regarding man as if he were nothing but an intellect. There is nothing that is so calculated to lead a man directly to this ‘false knowledge’, about which the Apostle is speaking, as a purely intellectual interest in truth, in which the heart is never engaged at all and the power of the truth is not felt, indeed in which feeling does not enter at all. The man is merely concerned to absorb knowledge with his mind. And it is precisely the same when the will is not engaged. If the interest does not lead to any action, or move the ill, it is equally bad. We need not stay with this. The text for all this is, of course, Romans 6:17: ‘But God be thanked’, says the Apostle, ‘that ye have obeyed’—will!—‘from the heart’—heart!—‘the form of (sound) doctrine delivered to you’— to the mind. There you have them together. If you isolate the intellect and leave out the heart and the will, it is certain that you will end in this position of having a false view of knowledge, and indeed as I want to show, with false ‘knowledge’ also. To vary the expression, this danger is one of knowing ‘about’ a subject rather than knowing it! What a vital distinction this is. What a difference there is between preaching about the gospel and preaching the gospel! It is possible to preach round the gospel and say things about it without ever presenting it. That is quite useless—indeed it can be very dangerous. It may be true of us that we know ‘about’ these things, but do not really know them. And this, of course, becomes all–important when we realize that the whole end and object of theology is to know God! A Person! Not a collection of abstract truths, nor a number of philosophical propositions, but God! A Person! To know Him!—‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent!’ There we have what I would regard as the main causes of this trouble...

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