Saturday, December 26, 2009

God HAS all and KNOWS all and GIVES all

This Psalm is certainly one of my favorite: Clear, Straight, and Evangelistic!
Come along with me as we run through a part of this Psalm :

Psalm 50:10-22 (scripture in BOLD)

10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
Obviously GOd is claiming OWNERSHIP of all creation, and also pointing out some things which men would 'sacricifice' to God (If you 'give' someone something they already own, then is it a sacrifice?)
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
God has 'need' of nothing, and beyond that, no one can give Him anything. God makes the point that the 'sacrifices' have nothing to do with His need, but with His point (message).
14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,
What then does God ask for? That which is only reasonable, COMPLETE PRAISE and PERFECT INTEGRITY!
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
"Houston we have a problem!" How exactly can those who are NOT following God's ways, and chose by nature and by pleasure, rebellion (sin)? Only by CRYING out to God for deliverance. When is our 'day of trouble'? It's the DAY we discover that we have sinned against a truly majestic, holy, and just God, it's the day we discover that our sins require payment and that the payment is beyond anything we could ever pay (eternal payment against an eternal God). Our day of trouble is the day we realize that we don't have the ability to save ourselves or to truly follow after God. It's the day that we are awakened to the truth, that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and lived among His creatures, only to suffer and die in their place, it's the truth that Jesus Christ was PUNISHED for our sins, just (justice) wrath was poured upon the Light of the world, and this was done according to plan so that ALL who would repent (turn from sin) and believe (turn to God) in Jesus Christ would receive the benefits of 'grace' (undeserved gift), that grace being a supernatural grace that LITERALLY changes the path (lifestyle, direction, focus, desire) of the believer for eternity! GOd delivers the one who crys out to Him, SWIFTLY and without any hesitation WHATSOEVER, for God DELIGHTS to pour His grace upon those who will LOOK to Jesus Christ! If You are saved, you will change and you will bring Him glory by the works He does in you.
16 But to the wicked, God says: "What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips?
However though this grace is abundant, it can't be manipulated, God will not be HUSTLED (mocked). God wants you to be crystal clear on this fact: You CANNOT pick and choose what promises (truths) in scripture you'll take or leave! If you would pretend to believe, but only desire to take Jesus as your savior ('clear my record') but not as your Lord ('Actually lead me') then you are still LOST in your sins (you can't DIVIDE Christ). The wicked have NO claim to the promises that God gives to His children (true Christians), BUT one conditional command 'that if you believe on the Lord Jesus you will be saved'.
17 You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.
It's OBVIOUS that you HATE God, because you HATE His truth, they are only road blocks in you life.
18 When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers.
19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.
20 You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother's son.
Sin is what you do, and with sinners is where you find 'good' company. A life that is continually joining with wickedness is a life leading to destruction.
21 These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.
The heart is SO deceitful and the mind is so PRONE to corruption that we ACTUALLY mold God to fit us, we rationalize that if we are not being punished immediately, then we must not be in trouble. 'Clearly', we think '!f things are going this good, then HEY, God must see things the way I see things, YEAH that's IT, God really does understand me, well I'll be sure to thank Him when I get to heaven!' This is the understanding of the fool, we cannot ESCAPE the eyes of God, His silence DOES not mean His blessing, and further more when things are chaotic, and catastrophic that doesn't mean that we are experiencing God's displeasure. The only way we come to a proper view of our standing before God, is by examining our life to the words of the bible.
22 "Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue:
If you will not FLEE to Christ to save you from your sins, then you are as a child with a toy gun attempting to storm the gates of God's kingdom to your own demise. The only rescue you have, is the One you are currently revolting against! How amazing that the victim, judge, jury, law maker, executioner and prosecutor is the One who will take your place, suffer your punishment, then defend you, pardon you, and ADOPT you for all eternity!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Though the likelihood of Jesus being born around this time is quite ridiculous, it does us well to remember His birth.
In His birth we above all are reminded of His purpose, Jesus Christ had a MISSION to accomplish and He NEVER lost sight of that mission. Jesus Christ was born to die, He lived to suffer. It is right to say that Jesus Christ died for YOU, but more importantly we must remember that Jesus Christ died BECAUSE of YOU. In otherwords, had it not been for your sins, had it not been for mine, there WOULD BE NO CROSS!
The cross declares God's thoughts and feelings about SIN
The cross declares God's faithfulness to His promises
The cross declares God's upholding of His justice
The cross declares the super-abundance of His mercy and love towards YOU

At the cross we see Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb taking the place of the condemned. Jesus Christ drains the cup of God's wrath that was filled with the cost of our sins. Jesus Christ secures salvation for His people by enduring their punishment. Instead of fairness, instead of demanding a full payment from all men, God gave grace at the cost of His cherished son, Jesus Christ! Our sins, MY sins demand PAYMENT, my crimes against the KINGDOM rule of God deserve nothing less then eternity in hell, yet instead of giving me, giving all men what they deserve, God gave men what they certainly DON'T deserve AND NEVER asked for, God gave grace! The saying goes like this, "You owe a debt, you can't pay, Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe".
In otherwords God loved the UNLOVABLE, God loved His enemies, Jesus Christ died in the place of rebels, not rebels fighting for a noble cause, but rebels who were fighting against the rule of God ('I want MY way"). As we were storming the gates of God's castle, He took His son to the gallows in order to pay for OUR treason.
Now we are called to "Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus". In otherwords we are now COMMANDED to turn away from our persitent and unproductive revolt against God's way, and turn to follow and embrace Jesus Christ as our ONLY hope and direction. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a way where there was no way and the GREAT news is that He not only inititates this relationship, this salvation but also secures and FINISHES it. True Christianity, true and biblical salvation means a DRASTIC change in the life of the believer. God promises to MAKE His people 'New creatures' and to give them 'New hearts', which means God does an INTERNAL work upon His people, their very WILL (heart, desire, passion) is changed. The true believer is more than 'just a church goer', the true believer is a LOVER of Jesus Christ. Everything changes ultimately because his/her relationship to Jesus Christ changes, and to LOVE Jesus Christ means that we desire (desperately want/pursue and to a degree though with much failure, we ACHEIVE) to OBEY Him. We begin then to LOVE the things God loves and to HATE the things GOd hates, we go far beyond "I'm not allowed to..." but with new found desires we can now say 'I don't WANT to ......'
Praise the Lord, that He chose to save!

Al Martin in Canton and some great fellowship

Well last weekend My wife and I were privileged to hear for the first time (twice) from our favorite preacher (that being the one whom we have certainly witnessed great fruit from the teaching of) Al Martin. Al Martin is now 70+ yrs old and STILL preaches and moves likes he's 30, it was also a great delight to see him speaking to so many people after the sermon. What had seemed odd was the fact that Al Martin preached on FRIDAY and then on SUNDAY (what was he doing on Saturday?) well after speaking to the host pastor (Pastor Mike) I got the scoop: Al Martin met with this Pastor in his hotel ALL day Saturday (from 10am till evening), it was Al Martin's choice and it was also the first time these dear men of God ever met (I'm SOOOOOOO jealous).
The fellowship at the church was also very sweet, I had several long conversations with members of the church and it was extremely uplifting to my soul. I also had the privilege of attending my mother's church (which is a young church yet is growing in depth). I rejoice that my family is able to attend such a healthy church, especially since THAT was an answer to the prayers of my wife and I.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Earning or responding to grace

Every believer has the duty and privilege of honoring (obeying, pleasing) the Lord. The problem is that many Christians just don't understand how and why they are to do that. The 'WHAT' is that which the scriptures declare, in other words we are bound by the scriptures alone in all our conduct.
The problem is however understanding the proper motive and goal of our obedience.

A "PERFORMANCE-based" (legalism) approach says:

1. We seek to 'please Him' so that He loves us

  • He loves us, because we first loved Him

However a biblical understanding of the gospel of grace says:

2. We seek to 'please Him' (2 Cor 5:9) because He loves us

  • We love Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)

Our salvation does NOT begin by our initiation NOR is it maintained by our performance. Christ not only drains the cup of God's wrath towards us, but in addition to that Jesus Christ imparts to us His righteousness. The righteousness of Christ imparted to us, seals the love of God toward us for eternity, in other words if God's love was to fade toward us then that would mean His love is fading toward Christ (how unthinkable).

The Lord produces works in His children by lavishing His love upon them, this is why the scriptures make such a strong link between our knowledge of God and our growth in godliness.

Ephesians 3:14-19

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

What about the abuses??? Let's be honest, there are certainly people who abuse this knowledge of the grace of God. Allow me to put forth two categories then:

1. Those who view the grace of God as a 'license to sin' (Jude).

  • 'Since God loves me and forgives me, why not sin ALL the more!!!

THIS person has twisted the grace of God, has trampled upon the blood of Christ, and needs to repent and be saved (this is the typical mentality of a lost 'decision' convert).

2. Those who conveniently avoid conviction in their life, by crying out 'legalism' whenever their compromises are confronted.

  • "Since I don't 'earn' God's love and am 'free' in Christ, therefore why be legalistic since this is something that I enjoy and it's not blatant sin"

This is the believer who's understanding of God's love and grace, serves more as a shield from 'conviction' in their daily living rather than greater motivation to pursue the Lord without distraction.

The grace of God should cause GREAT rejoicing, and produce in us GREATER 'freedom' to serve the Lord because we KNOW that we are greatly loved. The knowledge of God's love for us should drive us to be more heavenly minded, more free to let go of things which others may be pursuing, more willing to restrict ourselves for the sake of the gospel, and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We then are ABLE and WILLING because we have been TRANSFORMED into new creatures and have been SATISFIED by floods of merciful LOVE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where are the godly ministers???

I heard a comment recently really crystallized something I desired to blog about and that was from a sermon from Bro Paul Washer which he just preached at a conference in England (which is quite possibly the best sermon he's preached on the gospel).
In the beginning of the message, Bro Washer said this (paraphrase):
"One of the ways we see God's judgment/discipline on the church is by considering the men she has been given behind the pulpit. Men who don't rely on the power of God, but on psychology, sociology, anthropology, and the latest church growth fad......we need men who fear nothing but sin and their flesh!"

Is this not true of our day? Let us not forget that this DOES apply to the 'Reformed' bunch as well. Even among the 'young, reformed, and restless' there are plenty of young 'stars' who are known NOT for their holiness and devotion but are known for their innovation, their humor, their intellect, and for their model (method). Such a thing is no cause for rejoicing, but a cause for caution. Where indeed are the men who trust in the power of God? What does that mean? It means men who when asked how their churches have grown, have NO ANSWER, no model they can sell you.
It's a tragedy to see young ministers preaching at conferences ONLY because they have something of a mega-church, not because they have shown an incredibly UNIQUE degree of maturity in godliness and that God is extraordinarily blessing their preaching. There is a generation rising of young ministers with misplaced zeal who are too concerned with being 'successful' rather than being Christ-like. Ministers who hide behind ink on paper that says they are somebody because they went to so and so school, yet these same ministers are looking for godly counsel from older ministers because they already have their 'vision' for 'their' church.
We should pity and FEAR young ministers who REFUSE to listen to godly and biblical older ministers. Only a fool ignores the biblical counsel of godly men.
I for one was one of those young guys who couldn't be bothered with hearing what 'old' people had to say (probably thanks to age-segregation). I wanted a guy who could 'relate' or who was fairly 'cool' that until I got married. Marriage was partly like walking in the dark, until I began to see older men and ministers who were actually offering and displaying biblical models, it was in such an area (being a husband and father) that I was awakened to how much I need to learn (and relearn) from godly men who actually had a clue and lived it (or learned from their mistakes). Since then I'm continually seeing the vast treasure that is stored among those who have long walked with the Lord (and that with SOUND doctrine).

There will never be a shortage of men offering shortcuts, men who are more concerned about 'how can we get more people in here' then 'Lord, help me to be faithful."

What is needed most today is a generation of ministers who are convinced and pursing the REALITY that 'without Me(Christ), you can do nothing' Jn 15. Don't assume that your youthful ideas and inventions are gifts, they may very well be temptations. That is why in all his plans a minister MUST wrestle with God (in prayer and the word). This he should do because he CLEARLY sees that as the biblical model, all the while seeking insight from older ministers who will (despite his feelings) not tickle his ears, but will rebuke, correct, and encourage as needed.

There is much that can be learned from the defeats and victories of older ministers. It makes no sense to attempt to learn by trial and error when we have godly examples to learn from.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Permanence view of Marriage NO EXCEPTIONS

Permanence View of marriage
Well I came across this term a couple of months ago from a sermon by Voddie Baucham, he only briefly touched on it. When I heard it, I instantly REJECTED what I heard BEFORE he explained anything. Well what he said disturbed me for a while and THEN I noticed that he recently preached an entire sermon on the subject.
Well I have to say that I had to rethink what I've always heard and even have repeated. Pastor Voddie Baucham handles this subject incredibly graceful, in fact I'd have to say that THIS sermon is an example of how to proclaim a message based on you convictions while upholding respect for those who would differ.
So if you have ever experienced something like a divorce, you certainly WON'T be smashed in this sermon. Yet it is crucial to keep in mind those who ARE in fact married and are entertaining thoughts of divorce for whatever reason. It is also crucial to keep in mind YOUNG people or singles who are ABOUT to make a grave mistake in getting married to someone they SHOULD NOT.
Examine this sermon, consider what is said with a "Lord is it so?" attitude.

Difficulty in finding mentors and friends

Among young Christians I have found that many are indeed desperately looking for godly fellowship and godly leadership. These are young people who ACTUALLY honor their elders (old enough to be a parent/ grandparent) but aren't looking for GENERIC advice, but are looking for godly AND doctrinally strong older saints who are willing to pour into their lives.
At a recent conference, I overheard a young man ask this question to Bro Paul Washer, he wanted to know what you do when you don't have anyone in your life that can help or direct you (correct, rebuke, teach, encourage).
I personally know this dilemma too well and have to say (almost with jealousy) that if you are privileged to be around such then don't take that for granted, because you have something very rare. I really can't recall any older brothers in the Lord, that have attempted to pour in my life (sure I've been able to pull together straps from men who were strong in one area or another). I don't even know ONE older person in the LORD who is doctrinally sound and is actually disciplining someone.
To add to this dilemma it's not even very common to find believers within a church which are actually praying together, studying scripture together, worshipping together and holding one another accountable (you know TRUE fellowship), and that's not even mentioning how many in leadership are NOT doing this (from worship teams to elders). Once again if YOU have such a privilege and it seems common in YOUR church than you are incredibly BLESSED.
Oh how we should be pleading for the Lord to raise up godly examples and for God to BREAK us from all our formalities which never go past the surface. What exactly is the church WITHOUT this?
Yet I praise the Lord that He has provided many means for us to be exposed to wisdom through the media. Young people beware of the fads of the day, learn all you can from the saints who have gone before you. Listen to them tell you of the vanity of chasing the things of this world even in the guise of religion. I indeed FEAR and watch carefully the young, up and coming pastors whose churches explode with crowds and can tell you why.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Albert Martin on CALVINISM pt1

This is from 'The practical implications of 'Calvinism'
(A small pamphlet from Banner of Truth)



What, then, are the personal implications of Calvinistic thought and truth both in the life of the individual and in the ministry exercised by the individual ?
by Al Martin

B. B. Warfield describes Calvinism as 'that sight of the majesty of God that pervades all of life and all of experience'. In particular as it relates to the doctrine of salvation its glad confession is summarized in those three pregnant words, God saves sinners. Now whenever we are confronted with great doctrinal statements in Holy Scripture, God does not leave us merely with the statement of doctrine. The end of God's truth set before the minds of God's people is that, understanding it, they might know its effect in their own personal experience. So the grand doctrinal themes of Ephesians, chapters 1, 2 and 3 are followed by the application of those doctrines to practical life and experience in Ephesians, chapters 4, 5 and 6. The end for which God gave his truth was not so much the instruction of our minds as the transformation of our lives. But a person cannot come directly to the life and experience, he must come mediately through the mind. And so God's truth is addressed to the understanding and the Spirit of God operates in the understanding as the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. He does not illuminate the mind simply that the file drawers of the mental study may be crammed full of information. The end for which God instructs the mind is that he might transform the life.
What, then, are the personal implications of Calvinistic thought and truth both in the life of the individual and in the ministry exercised by the individual ? By personal implications I mean the implications of your own relationship to God without any conscious reference to the ministry.
Now, these things cannot be separated in an absolute sense, for as has been well said, 'The life of a minister is the life of his ministry'. You cannot separate what you are from what you do; you cannot separate the effect of truth upon your own relationship to God personally from the effect of truth through you ministerially. For the sake of bringing the principles into sharp focus I am separating them, but in no way do I want to give the impression that these two are in rigid categories.
I ask then, What are the implications of Calvinistic thought, this vision of the majesty of God and of the saving truth of Scripture as it relates to us as individuals? In answer let us go back to that general principle which B. B. Warfield calls the 'formative principle of Calvinism'. I quote Warfield's words: '
It lies then, let me repeat, in a profound apprehension of God in His majesty, with the poignant realisation which inevitably accompanies this apprehension, of the relation sustained to God by the creature as such, and particularly by the sinful creature. The Calvinist is the man who has seen God, and who, having seen God in His glory, is filled on the one hand with a sense of his own unworthiness to stand in God's sight as a creature, and much more as a sinner, and on the other hand, with adoring wonder that nevertheless this God is a God who receives sinners. He who believes in God without reserve and is determined that God shall be God to him in all his thinking, feeling and willing - in the entire compass of his life activities, intellectual, moral and spiritual - throughout all his individual social and religious relations, is, by force of that strictest of all logic which presides over the outworking of principles into thought and life, by the very necessity of the case, a Calvinist.
Notice that when B. B. Warfield defines Calvinism and the Calvinist he used words of a strongly experimental nature. The words 'apprehension' and 'realisation' deal primarily with the understanding, though they go beyond that, but when we come to words such as 'seen God', 'filled on the one hand with a sense of his own unworthiness', 'adoring Wonder', 'thinking, feeling and willing', these are words of experience. Warfield is really saying that no person is a Calvinist, no person is truly Biblical in his thinking of God, no man is truly religious, no man is truly evangelical until these concepts have been burned into the nerve fibres of his experience. In other words, Warfield would say that an academic Calvinist is a misnomer, as much as to speak of "a living corpse' is a misnomer. When the soul and the body are separate death has taken place, and Warfield would teach us that when the soul of Calvinistic thought is dead or absent, all that remains is a carcase, a stench in the nostrils of God, and so often a stench in the church when found in a minister.

Albert Martin preaching in CANTON, OH

FINALLY!!! I get to here Bro Albert Martin preach, I have heard many things concerning the preaching of Albert Martin and it's clear from all of them that God's hand is upon this dear brother. I have personally listened to several hundred of his sermons and have been greatly encouraged and challenged in the ways of the Lord.
If I was to describe what strikes me most about Pastor Martin in listening to him, it's BOLD THOROUGHNESS!

There are a lot of dear men that I have been blessed by like Bro Paul Washer for instance, but Bro Washer isn't always thorough, which he has also testified, that he doesn't always carry a thought to it's conclusion (or always explain some statements).
In fact, John Murray, arguably the greatest theologian of the 20th Century and a founder of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, said of Al Martin he is "one of the ablest and moving preachers I have ever heard. I have not heard his equal."
Pastor Martin will be preaching on Friday December 18th at 7:30 and on Sunday 20th at 9:30, 11, and 6 pm @ Heritage Reformed Baptist Church in Canton, Ohio

Blessing of child #7

Well it seems that the Lord has been pleased to once again open the womb of my dear wife and bless us with yet another child (who knows we might get that daughter after all--sure got enough 'back-up' with 6 brothers).
We have chosen to NOT worry about all the things that most parents might, I say 'chosen not to' because we like many other couples are but flesh and are easily able to worry about all the 'ifs' of this life, yet we have seen God's gracious hand in always providing (even in matters of health, which are in the hands of our good God). It is our conviction that The word of God is true, and the Word of God states that children are a blessing "FROM" the Lord and we would count any sacrifice worth it, though we need MUCH grace from God.
Our only concern is that the Lord would bless us to be faithful in training them up in the admonition of the Lord! (May we never take lightly our stewardship).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monster children

I was listening to Pastor Albert Martin's series on 'How not to foul up the training of your children' and he was the making the point how Christians should ABANDON the humanistic language that there are 'STAGES' for children ('terrible two's' 'teen stage' etc). Such language he pointed out has been adopted from godless teachers (psychologists) who believe that man is BASICALLY GOOD.
The scriptures however DO NOT present man (or children) in such a manner. The scriptures present mankind as totally depraved, as at enmity with God, as children of WRATH, as idolaters, as DEAD in sins and trespasses!
That means that are children, are sweet little innocent angels are nothing of the kind. They are hell-bent, sin-loving, God-hating, MONSTERS!
This quote came to my mind (it was my first exposure to such a thought when I first read this). here is what JC Ryle said in 'Holiness':

The fairest babe that has entered life this year, and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as its mother perhaps fondly calls it, a little "angel," or a little "innocent," but a little "sinner." Alas! as it lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! Only watch it carefully, as it grows in stature and its mind develops, and you will soon detect in it an incessant tendency to that which is bad, and a backwardness to that which is good. You will see in it the buds and germs of deceit, evil temper, selfishness, self-will, obstinacy, greediness, envy, jealousy, passion-which, if indulged and let alone, will shoot up with painful rapidity. Who taught the child these things? Where did he learn them? The Bible alone can answer these questions!-Of all the foolish things that parents say about their children there is none worse than the common saying, "My son has a good heart at the bottom. He is not what he ought to be; but he has fallen into bad hands. Public schools are bad places. The tutors neglect the boys. Yet he has a good heart at the bottom."-The truth, unhappily, is diametrically the other way. The first cause of all sin lies in the natural corruption of the boy's own heart, and not in the school.

This among MANY reasons is why we MUST refuse to accept what the world teaches us concerning children. Above that we MUST be determined to be set free from our IGNORANCE as regards the state of our children, we must be aware of the sinful tendencies in our children: as a father of six boys I can already testify that they have different sinful tendencies and even different manifestations of the same sins. Don't EXCUSE sin as 'cute' or as something that will 'pass', the bible makes clear that those things which are dealt with DON'T pass, they GROW!
Call me crazy, but I'm thinking God knows your child better than you and knows how they need to be trained and disciplined better than you as well! NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
(As regards small children )I'll give you a freebie: Training is not VEGGIE TALE movies and Discipline is not TIME-OUT. THEY need and you are COMMANDED (repeatedly) to give them the WORD (DOCTRINE) and the ROD (as Vance Havner put it 'Apply the BOARD of CORRECTION to the SEAT of LEARNING').
My advice on resources for childrearing, cancel any conference you plan to attend on the subject, fore go any workbook you plan to go through and rather GET THE SERIES BY ALBERT MARTIN on "how not to foul up the training of your children" (it appears the trinity pulpit website is experiencing problems with their media, so) go here for some (the complete series should be 40 messages)

Considering Mark Driscoll??

I've been very reluctant to mention this name in a post because I'm not looking to draw a group of Mark Driscoll haters nor do I wish to spend hours defending Mark Driscoll worshippers.
I will however like to give a link which of the many I have read on Mark Driscoll seems to be the most thorough (filled with quotes and links).
I do however believe that those who like MD are 'entertained' by him or envy him because of his 'success' which is very sad. Whenever you have to go out of your way to defend what a minister/ministry teaches or does by highlighting 'BUT....look at this...consider the good here...'. I am convinced that such a name and those like him would have no voice if it wasn't for their numerical achievements (which are CONSTANTLY referenced/boasted).

Well here is the link: (BTW I don't know the site enough to give a blanket endorsement)

http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/1640

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dad's role??

Check out this scripture:
2 Tim 1:5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Perhaps you've read this and even taught from this passage and yet I wonder have you ever asked 'what about the dad?'. Surely we should praise the Lord for the instruction and example of godly mothers and grandmothers BUT such a statement should at the LEAST cause us to pause and even CRY OUT "God forbid that be said of my child!"
I hope you would count that as an awful testimony concerning your FAILURE in the role of a godly father that what is commended of your child's godliness is credited to his/her mother, grandmother or anyone else and You as a father not even mentioned!
Perhaps you could receive credit for your child's academic achievements, athletic trophies, humor, connections etc... and all that will be VANITY (worthless) if your child is not instructed in righteousness by their FATHER.
With few exceptions, much about a man can be revealed through his children. Let a minister talk as much as he likes, let him acquire as many degrees as possible, let him write as many books as possible and yet if his children cannot testify to his life then it's all smoke. It's no hard task to convince strangers of our godliness, of our love for Jesus, and our zeal for His glory, but let someone ask our children "Tell me about your father, what does he love most?" or "What kind of man is your father?" what a thought! Would the last thing you'd expect them to say be 'He is a praying man!", "My daddy is a man after God's heart!", "This I know, Jesus is his treasure"??????
God has certainly not called you to be your child's coach! To drive them to accomplish their dreams (and live out yours). God has not called you to be their motivational guru who can lead you child to his/her best life now, to achieve 'success' and 'position' (all to YOUR pride). God has not called you to be their BUDDY, to spoil your children with all fun and NO discipline, no structure, no instruction, because you have this fluffy Disney idea of being a dad, that sir is not the plan. If you are the leader of the home, if the headship belongs to you, then you sir are called to LEAD in all things pertaining to godliness!
Let us seek the grace of God to produce diligence within us to pursue and honor the Lord in our duty as a father!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Find your purpose, your dream?! Gospel

Do you wish to find your 'purpose' in life? Is your purpose then to be found in what you desire, in what you want, in your dreams? Surely that's the way 'purpose' is often portrayed or defined by the 'experts', those who are appealing to your cravings.
I doubt you will find your purpose or your fulfillment (satisfaction) in this life by looking within, for who are we to determine what is proper and right?! We must look to another source, we must look to that which is far beyond our pitiful reasoning, we must look to God almighty and we do this by looking to His WORD.
Will you be satisfied in being successful?? Once again a definition is crucial, what exactly would you define as 'success'? Well whatever answer comes to mind, I ask you now to examine that same response from your deathbed. If you lived a 'full' life and say at 70+ you are upon your deathbed, what would bring you peace? What would cause you regret? What things would you consider from that place a total WASTE of your time and energy?
I beg you to look at something else, far more important that what you could define as your 'dream' or 'vision' for your life, because you may indeed find contentment in ignorance ('ignorance is bliss' so they say). It is by far more important to consider these two questions in your life:
WHY WAS I CREATED?
WHAT DO I NEED?
This is by far more important than 'discovering who you are' and what you want out of life, because you could very well get what YOU want out of life and be ROBBED of life: that IS a wasted life!
The scriptures are absolutely clear that God is in need of nothing and that what we see was NOT created then out of need, but out of mere enjoyment. In otherwords God created YOU for His own pleasure, God created you for Him. All things were created by Him and for Him.
Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Newsflash! It's not about YOU, it's about HIM! Christ is the center of all things, He is the center of salvation, of eternity and CREATION! You then are called and created to WORSHIP Him, such worship (absolute surrender) He deserves and demands!
However there is yet another problem: What you NEED!
Ok, so you were created to worship, to love, to serve, to obey, to follow Jesus and so perhaps you say to yourself 'ok I'll give that a shot' or 'wait a minute, I don't think I'm that kind of person'. The good news is that God already knows that you can't do this. In fact the problem is greater then you NOT being able to serve and worship God, but the fact that you are ALREADY rebelling and fighting against God. You see God does NOT separate His laws from Himself, which means when you sin, you sin AGAINST God (everytime) and each sin demands punishment. Each sin is an act of treason against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, it's a terrorist attack against the Sovereign Kingdom of God! So then you/we have the dilemma of not being able to erase our sins, we are unable to 'make up' these heinous crimes against HIS majesty. So since we are unable to SAVE ourselves, we surely don't deserve it and it's clear that we CANNOT earn it, we then MUST HAVE A SAVIOR! The one who saves is JESUS Christ! HOW? By taking the place of the wicked, by taking and suffering their punishment. So the JUST wrath of God against sin/sinners is poured out on JESUS CHRIST (the LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world JOHN 1:29) and His worth, His righteousness is given to those who believe, He clears the debt and gives perfect credit before God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What then must you do to be saved? You MUST repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! This means you must forsake your sin, forsake your efforts to bribe God, to balance out your wickedness with 'good' deeds and you must throw yourself at the feet of Jesus, believing and confessing that if He doesn't save you and change you then you are doomed. ".....Lord have mercy on me a sinner!....this man went to his house justified...." Luke 18:13,14
You Do not have to DIE in ignorance, wasting your life for a mirage, nor do you have to die under the wrath of God to be poured out upon your soul for eternity in Hell, YET you MUST believe on Jesus Christ, You MUST hope in Him alone, You MUST trust in Him and FOLLOW Him, The Lord has not only provided access to the door of salvation but has also provided for the journey to heaven. In otherwords, God does the impossible in forgiving and saving you, and performs a miracle WITHIN you, giving you the desire and ability to follow, to love, to worship Him: such a miracle that it's referred as being BORN-AGAIN!
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ways 4 the Theologically minded to stay HUMBLE

It should go without saying that with growth comes much temptation to pride. The children of Israel were warned not to forget God and to not to begin to think that the blessings God gave them were deserved.
Pride often comes when we measure ourselves by others and then begin to boast within ourselves as though WE attained the blessings we have by our own ability, we exalt self and despise others.
Among truly born again believers this should not exist, but it does and I'd like to suggest some remedies to such a disgusting sin.

IF we are truly more knowledgeable and theologically more sound then our brethren;

  • Then we should consider the fact that 'to whom much is given, much is required', there should be a greater degree of TREMBLING within!
  • Then it would do well to pay close attention to those 'weak' believers who SHAME you with their holy living, their godly homes, and godly witness (what fruit is your knowledge producing???) (even Biographies of those past)
  • Then consider the SOURCE of all that you have, think much of Christ and much of His grace by remembering and realising that you were once blind and ALL you have is due to Him. 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
  • Consider also that you have been given more so that you can GIVE more, so that the BODY may be edified!

It was Tozer who said that it won't matter how much you gave, but how much you COULD have given! Knowledge is a means by which we may enjoy greater intimacy with Christ, it is NOT a substitute for intimacy (which includes HOLINESS). We should never be satisfied with our present knowledge of God, because there is NO end to it and we should never be satisfied with our present pursuit/conformity to Him because it has NO end. We must, by the grace of God, strive for BOTH!!

Signs indicating Preacher worship!!!

So there's a lot stirring about Celebrity preachers and even those who are called 'untouchables' meaning those who are able to get away with what others would be questioned about.
First off I don't want to ignore the fact that some people get a vile kick out of exposing or attempting to expose someone in ministry and those people should surely repent! Just as problematic are those who DON'T have a biblical understanding of the role of leadership and the honor God calls His people to give to those who watch over our souls and perhaps they are those who simply won't humble themselves enough to truly trust God in these matters. Finally there are those who aren't able to distinguish from giving honor to someone and being grateful for their labor without thinking they are praising men and stealing glory from God (It IS biblical to thank and praise others while recognizing that what is good in them is God in them!)

Now to the signs, the signals that reveal a unhealthy estimation of a preacher. I speak now of the terrible idolatry of hero worship and YES this DOES exist even in REFORMED circles. One major indicator that even in Reformed circles this unbalance exists, is the sad reality that 'successful' preachers are often measured by the same standards in mainstream churches: NUMBERS, POPULARITY, and BOOK SALES!!!

Though this can certainly be expanded, here are a few MAJOR red flags:

  • You are very slow to check (or you don't at all) things which are NEW, which may be something taught that you never heard before and/or even some new method
  • You are quick to DEFEND any criticisms or concerns of others about your fav Preacher BEFORE you have any of the details.
  • You receive with eagerness anything that is taught by this Preacher YET you are very SLOW to receive from others (even your local church pastor).
  • You are able to quote this Preacher more and do, THEN you can quote the BIBLE

This is a fearful trap to fall into and it's one which many have fallen into, this is why it's not suprising to find some believers going through a major crisis in their faith when their Fav preacher falls! Let us rather give honor where honor is due, WHILE maining our constant trust in the AUTHORITY of the scriptures to TEST all things (and all MEN). We are to be Bereans who seek to search the scriptures, who desire to be convinced as to what the scriptures teach.

Dear believer I pray that there is NO ONE whom you listen to or are under the ministry of which you let you guard down and blindly follow, not ONE of the the Apostles called for nor encouraged such idolatry! Get in the WORD and get the WORD in you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Voddie Baucham NEW CHURCH PLANT 2010

In January 2010 Grace Family Baptist in Texas whom Voddie Baucham is one of the elders, will be planting another church (which will be in another part of Texas). They have been a church less than four years but have grown quickly, Voddie Baucham expressed his desire to be a church planting church over a year ago at a Founders conference:

This is glorious news, it is certainly refreshing to hear of such growth in such a doctrinally declining country. Voddie Baucham has posted a 3 part series (part one HERE) concerning the details of the Church plant including why they did not go other routes like: multiple services, satellite services, or build a bigger building.
Here is a small piece of very interesting and appealing information concerning what Grace Family Baptist Church does: (taken from the first post in the series)
Our service is unique. We meet at 10:45, and are together until 3:00pm (or later). Each Lord’s Day we have a prayer time (Matt 21:13; cf. Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), sing (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), read significant portions of New and Old Testament Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13 ESV), preach for about an hour (2 Timothy 4:2), observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23–26), and share a fellowship meal (Acts 2:42–47). This simply will not fit into a pair of neat ninety minute services. Nor would we want it to.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Great displays of Gods grace/wrath IGNORED

It would only seem reasonable and logical, to say the least, that a miraculous experience of deliverance from judgment would produce lasting conversion and gratitude towards the Lord! Right? Yet how have the great majority of unregenerate/lost/wicked men responded to the most astounding rescues in history? With sin-filled arrogance, self-righteousness, and self-indulgence.

Consider with me some the many great deliverance's chronicled in the scriptures.
Deliverance from SODOM

  • Lot's wife only regretted having to leave
  • His daughters devised and follow through on a plan of incest

Deliverance from EGYPT

  • The Israelites complain about everything
  • The Israelites despise the rescue and long for Egypt
  • The Israelites worship false gods in the very presence of a manifestation of God

Deliverance from Babylonian/Medo-Persian CAPTIVITY

  • The remnant spend their time seeking their own gain (building their houses)
  • The remnant despise God with worthless sacrifices
  • The remnant return to their rebellious ways

Shouldn't these events have caused a dramatic change of heart??? What about the CROSS??? Isn't the CROSS OF CHRIST the ultimate display of grace toward the wicked, isn't the CROSS OF CHRIST the most dramatic event in ALL of history. isn't it the CROSS OF CHRIST the most powerful and unthinkable display of the grace of God? It should go without saying, that it indeed was!! Yet man has maintained his consistency in rejecting and rebelling against the grace and power of God!

These few instance that I have cited are events that displayed both the wrath of God and the grace of God! Well what then can be gathered or gleamed from this? Well what I desired to point out is the absolute necessity of understanding that a 'change of heart' (conversion) is a MIRACLE of God. Something that requires much more than LOGIC, FEAR, EXCITEMENT, GRATITUDE, SHOCK, UNDERSTANDING, SIGHT, or any other feelings, thoughts or experiences. The bible is CRYSTAL clear about man's INABILITY to seek or respond to God UNLESS He does something IN them. Surely if man COULD do anything of himself, if salvation was simply a 'decision' or an 'accepting' of what God offers, then we should expect these times to effect the majority. This is precisely why we DO NOT read of mass conversions during the MOST (from our view) EXPECTED times. Let it be remembered that for every 'I hit rock bottom, then....' testimony (via drugs, poverty, sickness, tragedy, disaster etc) there are millions of stories of people who (though they 'called' to God or promised something or thanked Him) quickly forgot God and only increased in their pursuit of wickedness.

If this is the case then where must we give our attention? Where should we focus our energies, if man is in such a state that a undeniable manifestation of God cannot change him???

Well like some Evangelical teachers today, there was a man, a wealthy man who thought that the great need of men is to see/experience 'PROOF' and surely then, they would repent! Now of course you ARE saying that 'well that's ridiculous because that's isn't what Roms 1 says of man, he's not suffering from lack of 'proof', but a lack of LIFE!" Trust me, I hear you, but seriously there ARE people who STILL think this, and then as is expected you say 'But Jesus said the reason men don't come to the Light is because they LOVE their SINS' Amen! Yet let's quickly show the passage of this wealthy man.

(Luke 16:19-31)......27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' 29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Nuff said?

Well you should know that 'Moses and the Prophets' mean the Word of God, which means that the most effective, the most powerful weapon we have (ever heard of the 'sword of the Spirit') is the very WORD of God.

WE DESPERATELY NEED in this our day MEN OF ONE BOOK!!!! (women too!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Apostle Paul missed it: SOCIAL GOSPEL

Acts 24:24-26
24Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." 26At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

Here's the apostle Paul before the Roman officials and he has several opportunities to speak before these leaders of this oppressive anti-Christ government and notice what Paul chooses to speak about and also imagine with me what he doesn't talk about.
Did Paul miss this great opportunity? Shouldn't Paul had taken this opportunity to address these men, not as souls in need of grace, but as 'officials' with the ability to change things?
Would you say that Paul could have served the people under Roman rule including and especially Christians by pleading for slavery reforms and religious freedoms??? Why was Paul so super-spiritual and so 'preachy'??? Couldn't Paul have rallied a great number of believers to stand outside the courts and 'fight' for social justice, wasn't there a great need for reform?
Perhaps Paul was on to something that many are missing, that the main thing is and forever will be the CROSS of JESUS CHRIST, and that the thing we must FOCUS our attention upon is ETERNAL things.
I would suggest some careful inquiry be applied here, it's one thing to read this and praise it or even to teach upon it. It's quite another thing to follow this example, to use what is called 'an opportunity' for the sake of the gospel and to make the gospel the MAIN thing. How would you respond to such a situation today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The gift of children

A familiar passage that is often addressed when Christians wish to defend the truth that a child is a child from conception and that regardless of terminology or the stage of devolpment 'abortion' is MURDER!
Psalm 139:13
13For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

So it seems that God is the author of life! Since God is the author of life, when is it our choice to not to desire life (children) or to prevent them?? Where does that come from, is it springing forth from the scriptures? Am I missing some verse which makes it clear that we are to look at children differently now?

Rather then crying out for children to change or bless our spouse, we should be like Hannah who desired a child to give to God. Isn't this what the Lord was saying in Malachi 2:15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

The cost for more children is worth it, rather then thinking 'what about this situation or that' we should seek to be resolved towards the scriptural attitude concerning children and then respond through the grace of God. I'm crushed to think of the many couples I know who aren't able to have children and can't figure how those who can, don't want them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The blessing of failure

God's plan for your life is for you to look to Him. Of all the things we experience and go through, every single one of them is for the purpose of drawing us close to Him. The 'blessings' we receive whether they be physical, material, psychological, etc.. are to produce the type of praise and worship that draws us close to Him.

Not only does God use the good to draw us to Him, but He uses the bad (from our perspective). This is usually very hard for people to grasp, which is primarily based upon an ignorance of the way God blesses His people. For those of us in the West, we are so comforted, so prosperous, and so sheltered that we truly believe that we have it really good, yet we are 'unfulfilled' 'unhappy' 'depressed' 'struggling' 'stressed' and generally more compromised then the rest of the world. If only more people would seek to learn and read of the lives of Godly people, not to mention reading of the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters in present hostile lands!

Maturity in the Lord isn't comparable to 'progress' in any other aspect of life. For maturity or progress in this life means "I" am able to care for myself in greater and greater measure or "I" am in LESS need of help or assistance from others. However this is not the reality of Kingdom living, for the believer his/her progress is not growth toward ever increasing degrees of independence, but ever growing degrees of DEPENDENCY!!

Humility promotes dependency, and the more we consciously depend on God, the more we glorify Him. This is why for many of us, we experience more FAILURE than 'success', because the Lord is protecting us from our pride. It is the Lord who is withholding the rain, it is the Lord who is causing you to be pruned, to be stripped of self-glorification. In the valley of failure, (if sensitive to the desire to bear much fruit for God) we are forced to look within, to wonder if we are truly honoring the Lord-- this is a much needed means of keeping us humble; heart searching is a forgotten art (don't allow the effects of legalists who turn this into meriting the love of God, deter you from begging God to search your heart often). Should we not be bothered when few of our prayers are answered, when few people turn to Christ, when few come to church, when few are relieved of their trials, when few seek to pray, when few want to come to bible study, when few want to give??? On the one hand the Lord calls us to continually ask, seek, and knock and on the otherhand we must recognize that the Lord IS doing something for us presently. During the waiting period, during our times of 'sowing' we are being taught patience, and being taught what it means to glorify God. IF we don't learn this, then we WILL be tempted (like many) to improvise, to make modifications to the commands of God, rather then focusing on being faithful we will take it in our hands to 'give the increase' which is God's exclusive claim!

James 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The Lord knows best, He always does best for His people and the situation you are in right at this moment IS working for your good! You are dearly loved child of God, yet you (and I) have much to learn about trusting in Christ alone, and if we were to be instantly delivered from the trials that we are presently going through, we would only suffer! That's not to say that your present attitude or response to your situation is acceptable, for we should NEVER be content to allow our circumstances to dictate our desires, affections, and actions. It's our attitude and response to our circumstance that cause us to compromise and to grow distant from God. Such things are grace reminders that point us back to Christ, to look for our joy in the grace of God displayed at Calvary and to find our hope in the abode of God (Heaven) that we await!
Our failure is our keeping from swelled heads and foolish mistakes.
  • God caused Moses to go through forty years of FAILURE concerning his call to lead the people(these years humbled this hot-head, in order to be God's prophet)
  • God caused Joseph to experience much FAILURE concerning his dreams of power (this spoiled child was crushed by betrayal, false accusation, and imprisonment which taught him to wait on God, to be faithful while he waited and to receive a tender-forgiving heart before his being lifted up)
  • God caused Peter to experience FAILURE in regards to his bold claim to stand for Christ in his own power (this motor-mouth learned how frail the promises of men as opposed to the 'precious' promises of God, he learned by bitter repentance that his call to lead was but by grace)

The list goes on of men and women whom God has through His wisdom and care, caused to go through much struggle and strain before allowing them to see the fruit of their labor. All that is accomplished in the kingdom of God is HIS work, not ours. We have been redeemed so that He may enjoy us and so that we may enjoy Him, the rest including the work we do is apart of that. May we learn to be faithful and to wait upon the Lord! May we learn to fear any 'work' any form of 'success' that is produced of the flesh and not of the Spirit. ALL EYES ON CHRIST!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting familiar with the bible, promoting biblical literacy

There are plenty of things competing for our attention in this life, not to mention the many things that are stressed as URGENT within Christendom. I would suggest that the most vital discipline in the life of the believer is A FAMILIARITY WITH THE SCRIPTURES.
A familiarity with scripture is a safeguard from false teaching: 'Discernment' comes from rightly understanding the word of God, our minds are to be 'renewed' by the word of God.
A familiarity with scripture is the key to praying properly: Through this we learn the promises of God, we learn what is and what is not appropriate to pray for, and through this we learn from the numerous examples of bible saints.
A familiarity with scripture promotes a familiarity with God, who reveals His character through the scriptures, this is the key to growing in personal holiness.

Every believer should desire to know the word better because it's linked to knowing God better and every believer should fear what happens when we aren't familiar with the word: we take the truth we know and then we fill in the blanks by rationalism, logic, circumstances, feelings or by the norms of the day, we MUST flee from this because we were never equipped to figure things out this way. If you wish to know and serve the Lord, then you must hunger for truth!!! If you wish to influence others (family, friends, and the lost) then you MUST hunger for truth!!

This goes double for those in ministry, I have witnessed 'ministers' totally unable to answer questions with scripture (and NO, not some obscure subject), totally unable to recall biblical passages relevant to a discussion. I've sat in bible studies and even in conferences where I sat utterly puzzled at the inability to apply scripture to a subject, yet are able to spew out a theological term they learned from a book. We desperately need ministers who are more familiar with Moses, Jesus, and Paul then with Calvin, Luther and Spurgeon!!!
A solid biblical framework can ONLY come through grasping the harmony of scriptures, which doesn't come through picking out a list of subjects/topics and finding scriptures for them. Sure you might impress someone, but your unfamiliarity with the scripture WILL be evident in life, counselling, and an extended preaching/teaching ministry. The BIG PICTURE is important, which only comes through exposure to the WHOLE bible, which is acquired through personal bible study. The best expository preacher (even if you had John Calvin as your teacher who preached throughout the week) simply can't give you a familiarity with the scriptures (no matter how fast they get through the bible) and we must realize that the specific truths they are teaching you is coming from their biblical framework, which depending on the subject may be in need of correction; yet How would you be able to recognize error if you aren't familiar with the scriptures? By a weak argument, well what if they are very persuasive and emphasize a particular truth and exclude a complimentary truth that gives the proper balance? How would you catch it? The Apostle Paul told his hearers to 'follow me as I follow Christ', this can't happen if we blindly and ignorantly follow someone we admire. The Apostle Paul also gave a warning NOT to accept another gospel even IF he preached it, but then how would you recognize it?

If you suffer from this all too common malady, then I beg you to spend the bulk of your 'study' time in reading LARGE portions of the scriptures. Get real familiar with the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) then with the rest of the New Testament and then with the Old Testament (which will save you from much confusion). Perhaps you have been advised to just read something like a chapter, maybe make notes, memorize a couple verses or something, yet I would dare to say that should come secondary to reading several chapters at a time. By the grace of God and through the power of the Spirit, seek to grasp as much as you can, in fact I would not suggest limiting your reading to a certain number of passages because there may be times where you are able to supernaturally enabled to concentrate and understand large portions (even whole books) and so I wouldn't suggest you quench those times.
ABOVE that it would of course be wise to have some kind of reading plan, using various tools that can help you grasp specifics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is personal holiness crucial to ministry??

Once again I quote Robert Murray Mccheyne who said 'what my people need most is my holiness'. Now what does that really mean?
Is there a direct link between personal holiness and fitness/fruit in ministry?
Well let me ask it another way, do parents REALLY need to be 'living' examples to their children or is it enough to just verbally instruct them? Naturally I'd expect you to say 'They MUST be living examples or they'll teach them hypocrisy!'
Don't the qualifications for an elder (even deacons) give the greatest emphasis on holiness of life? In Peters challenge to Shepherds, did he not say 'by EXAMPLE'?
Personal holiness is VITAL to effective and more importantly God glorifying ministry. Let a minister spend as much time as he likes in perfecting his sermons, yet if he neglects his personal holiness he will never see the fruit he should expect. Passion for the pursuit of God MUST start with leadership, or else what is said in the pulpit or in private will sound merely hypothetical and it will leave the congregation convinced that the real important thing is to 'speak' sound doctrine (isn't this the state of many Reformed churches, that have little emphasis on personal holiness??!!).
Lloyd-Jones in Preaching and Preachers makes a distinction between a good preacher and good preaching. In otherwords one may have the reputation of a great preacher because people have listened to their sermons, but it's quite another thing to intimately know a preacher who has impacted your life through their lives! I remember well being among many young adults when a pastor told us 'Your people will forget the things you teach from Sunday to Sunday, but they won't forget YOUR LIFE!'.
Paul Washer not long ago said that there are famous preachers but not famous pastors. There is much truth in that statement, for many of the greatest preachers in history may not have been as spectacular as we seem to think. When I think of famous pastors, I think of men who spent much time with their flock, such was reported of Richard Baxter as well as Robert Murray Mccheyne. In fact it's a lot easier to hide your life as a itinerant preacher, evangelist, author, or professor then it is to be a good pastor. This is why I'm convinced that the greatest need of our day is HOLY pastors, not to mention that it's also the HIGHEST calling.
An unholy pastor is like: A marriage counsellor who's third marriage is falling apart or a Word of Faith healer who has cancer!
What a fearful thing it is to be a teacher of God's people, and how in need each minister is of much fear and trembling. Likewise how important it is to encourage the holiness of our elders, and to pray for them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Song of Solomon, Taylor, Edwards, Spurgeon

I'll concur with the saints of past is seeing the Song of Solomon as ultimately a picture of Christ and His bride. Many found this book to be instrumental to their intimacy with Christ and often preached on it. I pray you find the two excerpts below very moving and fruitful.

I like how Jonathan Edwards (who read this book frequently) intoduces this book:
"The name by which Solomon calls this song confirms to me that it is more than an ordinary love song and that it was designed for a divine song and of divine authority for we read in 1 Kings 4:32 that Solomon's songs were "a thousand and five". This he called the "Song of Songs" (Canticles 1:1). That is the most excellent of his songs which seems very probable to me to be upon that account because it was a song of the most excellent subject, treating of the love, union and communion between Christ and His spouse of which marriage and conjugal love was but a shadow. These are the most excellent lovers and their love the most excellent love".
Edwards, Jonathan - "Volume 15 - Notes on Scripture", Yale University Press.

Hudson Taylor on the Song of Solomon (a devotional)

Look not upon me, because I am swarthy,Because the sun hath scorched me.My mother's sons were incensed against me,They made me keeper of the vineyards;But mine own vineyard have I not kept.

Our attention is here drawn to a danger which is pre-eminently one of this day: the intense activity of our times may lead to zeal in service, to the neglect of personal communion; but such neglect will not only lessen the value of the service, but tend to incapacitate us for the highest service. If we are watchful over the souls of others, and neglect our own--if we are seeking to remove the motes from our brother's eye, unmindful of the beam in our own, we shall often be disappointed with our powerlessness to help our brethren, while our MASTER will not be less disappointed in us. Let us never forget that what we are is more important than what we do; and that all fruit borne when not abiding in CHRIST must be fruit of the flesh, and not of the SPIRIT. The sin of neglected communion may be forgiven, and yet the effect remain permanently; as wounds when healed often leave a scar behind.


Now here is C.H. Spurgeon upon the same passage

Many are working very hard for wealth, which means, of course, for "self", that they may be enriched. Some are working simply for a competence, which means, if it goes no farther, still for "self". Others work for their families, a motive good enough in its way, but still only an enlargement, after all, of "self". To the Christian there must always be a far higher, deeper, purer, truer motive than self in its widest sense; or else the day must come when he will look back upon his life, and say, "They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard" -that is, the service of Christ, the glory of him that bought me with his blood "have I not kept." It seems to me to be a terrible calamity to have to look back on twenty years, and say, "What have I done in all those twenty years for Christ? How much of my energy has been spent in striving to glorify him? I have had talents: how many of those talents have been used for him who gave them to me? I have had wealth, or I have had influence. How much of that money have I spent distinctly for my Lord? How much of that influence have I used for the promotion of his kingdom?" You have been busy with this notion, and that motive, and the other endeavor; but have you lived as you will wish to have lived when you stand at his right hand amid his glories? Have you so acted that you will then judge yourself to have well lived when your Lord and Master shall come to call you to account? Ask yourself, "Am I an earnest laborer together with God, or am I, after all, only a laborious trifler, an industrious doer of nothing, working hard to accomplish no purpose of the sort for which I ought to work, since I ought to live unto my Lord alone?" I invite all my fellow-servants to take a retrospect, and just to see whether they have kept their own vineyards. I suppose that they have worked hard. I only put the question Have they kept their own vineyards? Have they served the Lord in all things? I am half afraid to go a step farther. To a very large degree we have not been true to our own professions: our highest work has been neglected, we have not kept our own vineyards. In looking back, how little time has been spent by us in communion with God! How little a part of our thoughts has been occupied with meditation, contemplation, adoration, and other acts of devotion! How little have we surveyed the beauties of Christ, his person, his work, his sufferings, his glory! We say that it is "heaven below" to commune with Christ; but do we do it? We profess that there is no place like the mercy-seat. How much are we at that mercy-seat? We often say that the Word of God is precious that every page of it glows with a heavenly light. Do we study it? Friends, how much time do you spend upon it? I venture to say that the bulk of Christians spend more time in reading the newspaper than they do in reading the Word of God. I trust that I am too severe in this statement, but I am afraid, greatly afraid, that I am not. The last new book, perhaps the last sentimental story, will win attentive reading; when the divine, mysterious, unutterable depths of heavenly knowledge are disregarded by us. Our Puritan forefathers were strong men, because they lived on the Scriptures. None stood against them in their day, for they fed on good food, whereas their degenerate children are far too fond of unwholesome food. The 'chaff of fiction', and the 'bran of the Quarterlies', are poor substitutes for the 'old corn of Scripture', the 'fine flour of spiritual truth'. Alas, my brethren, too many eat the 'unripe fruit of the vineyards of Satan', and the fruits of the Lord's vines they utterly despise! Think of our neglect of our God, and see whether it is not true that we have treated him very ill. We have been in the shop, we have been on the exchange, we have been at the markets, we have been in the fields, we have been in the public libraries, we have been in the lecture-room, we have been in the forum of debate; but our own closets and studies, our walk with God, and our fellowship with Jesus, we have far too much neglected.

From The Unkept Vineyard; Or, Personal Work Neglected #1936

If you pray for yourself in this matter, then pray also for me!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Family Worship (helping your children)

I just read a post by brother Voddie Baucham answering the question:
What are practical ways to involve and teach your preschoolers during your family devotional times (ie: morning pray/read/sing)??????
I beg you to take the time and read this blog entry, especially if you have children. I can't count the times people have asked us (and we have far to go) how we get our children to sit so well or behave so well in church and even in other settings (which is certainly better then remarks like 'wow, you're lucky to have GOOD kids' like they come that way) well it's through ROUTINE and the grace of God. The advice bro Voddie gives concerning this would have been incredibly useful for us yrs ago and it would be my advice to parents to listen and apply the advice he has given!

As for our family (if you're interested) our routine with our six boys (5yr old and down) is to

  • first read a chapter of the bible (we're currently in II Kings)
  • then I either ask them to recall something which I just read or I'll ask them some random catechism questions (we use the Children's prove it catechism and from time to time we make adjustments in the answers or questions where necessary).
  • After that we sing about five songs (although we don't necessarily try to introduce new songs on a regular basis--but they do learn new songs from the worship music on during the day (even the 2yr old twins learn new songs consistently)
  • Then we pray (I don't attempt to be too brief) I think it's good for them to hear real praying and not kid-version prayers. I pray for their character, health, and attitude but I especially pray for their conversions. Then for us (parents) to be given grace to love one another and to lead our families (more of the fruits of the Spirit), I pray for our personal holiness, our usefulness to the body of Christ and our witness to the world. Then I pray for lost family members, the topics after that are varied.

During such times they are expected to listen and to sit attentively (yeah they may fidget, but it should be obvious when they are in a posture of disinterest). If it's been an unusually long day or they've extremely worn out (missed a nap, day at the park, sick etc..) then sometimes they fall asleep and we don't treat that as a discipline case (our son Malachi is the one who this happens to the most-nonetheless it's still rare). We sit them on each side of us, and we keep a close eye on clowning (the kind I was notorious for as a kid), it is good for children to learn that when a time is dedicated to the Lord they should not want to be a distraction (not to mention, important to respect their parents when they speak).

Above all we should be real, and since we desire to be authentic, while recognizing that our frames are weak, we must then beg God to move our hearts more and more. Don't be satisfied with just 'doing the right thing', let us plead with the Lord to stir us up, to increase our passion for Him, so our children will be convinced that 'we do what we do' BECAUSE we LOVE the Lord and that BECAUSE He FIRST LOVED US!

Voddie Baucham writes:
Small children usually learn to love what Mom and Dad love. Show me a ten year-old who loves the Texas Longhorns, and I’ll show you a parent who had him in front of the TV (or on the fifty yard line in Austin) when he was smaller. Moreover, show me a parent who views daily family worship as drudgery and I’ll show you a kid who probably thinks the same. This is not to say we have to be fake, or that we have to make our family worship artificially “exciting” in order to appease our kids. It is, however, to say that we must buy in to this. We need to have a passion for the God of the gospel and a desire to honor him in our homes.

...Ok NOW go read the WHOLE post from bro Voddie Baucham (CLICK HERE)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The secret to a godly marriage

If you wish to find satisfaction and peace as regards your marriage then you must first, seek a marriage which glorifies God. In order for that to take place you must take the time to become familiar with what the scriptures teach concerning our roles within marriage.
Now please allow me to address those believers who are married to some difficult people, you know that husband that just isn't taking the lead or that wife who simply isn't submitting (of course there could be many more examples). I'll tell you the secret to obtaining that peace and joy within such a marriage; fix your eyes on Christ!
In otherwords if you will look to Christ for your joy and peace, then you will begin to see that the biggest problem in your marriage is YOU! The advice that God gives concerning changing our mates, is to change ourselves. When we put more energy in seeking to honor (glorify) the Lord in our marital duties then we do in trying to get our spouse to line up, then we are fostering an environment that the Lord can bless.
In addition to focusing on our own sanctification, we should be pleading with the Lord to help us unconditionally love, honor, and serve our spouse. When we are applying such an eye to ourselves, then we will be better equipped to apply an honest evaluation (MT 7:1- ) of our spouse, in order that we can properly pray for them (we should be spending more time talking to God about the things we see in our spouse then we do with our spouse). Let us strive to be faithful and seek to trust and plead with God to do what we obviously cannot!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A weak gospel is common!

I have often heard some ministers who are within the 'bible-belt' and usually Southern Baptists speak about the awful condition of people who will profess to know Christ. It would seem that some of these ministers believe that the problem is limited to the Sourthern-most states in America, yet I'm convinced that's simply not true. It may be true that in the 'South' many have had greater exposure to 'church' and that would certainly explain why so many would profess something they don't live up to, but to say it's a 'South' specific problem is quite far from the truth.
The gospel which most people have been exposed to is a powerless and compromised man-centered gospel of fluff. A gospel which is presented as a simple intellectual choice or emotional choice, which doesn't require much. A gospel which doesn't explain what it means to 'believe and repent' and doesn't explain the wrath that men deserve and the wrath Christ took, it is a gospel which lacks any explanation of power; the power of Christ's Resurrection (what that signified), the power of regeneration (the 'true' conversion experience). This gospel has been stripped of teaching, stripped of theology and has been dumbed down to an ineffective and timid sales pitch, which has caused countless millions to feel at peace with God when they should STILL be terrified because they are still lost!
Thanks to the media, the books, the radio, and the TV, not to mention the crusades and events that are and have been spreading throughout the world, this weak gospel is EVERYWHERE! I was first exposed to such things in England, and have since seen such in Northern Ohio. I've seen it in the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Inter-denominational, non-denominational, Charismatic, Presbyterian churches. I witnessed such a tragedy several yrs ago whenever I had to accompany someone at the jails (juvenile jails) and usually (to my disgust) someone would ask in the beginning 'who here is saved?' and it never failed, just about every hand goes up. Likewise the same happened if someone asked 'ok, so who wants to be saved?'. I was able to watch this weak view of the gospel acted out at two inner-city youth groups, where these so-called 'moves of God' where tons of people come to the front and have emotional experiences, yet countless were the times where we (the 'workers') had to break up brawls right after the service (involving the same kids)!
THis should not come as a surprise to anyone, unless you've not been paying attention. Aren't men like Rick Warren and Billy Graham to name a few, internationally known? Regardless of the sentimental view you may have concerning such men, the fact that they have promoted and proclaimed a weak gospel can't honestly be denied, unless you haven't really read or listened to such men.
Due to this problem, we must ABOVE ALL have a thorougly clear view of the gospel. We must never grow tired of explaining the DETAILS of the gospel. Regardless of where you are at, the gospel needs to be clarified, and the life of the true believer must be explained.
We should ever be fine tuning our understanding of the gospel and growing in our ability to help others understand the gospel, this is one reason why I'm not interested in promoting some method of evangelism, even if it makes you more 'comfortable' (although I understand if you use something as a 'starter', but you must be prepared to go beyond a 'script')!
If you wish to become better equipped with your understanding of and articulation of the gospel, then you must give attention to the study of the gospel. My advice would be to familiarize yourself with the scriptures concerning all the promises and proclamations of the gospel. In addition to that listen to good preachers who present the gospel (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Albert Martin, Jeff Noblit, Paul Washer, Albert Martin, John Macarthur, John Piper, Voddie Baucham, Jono Sims, Tim Conway, Charles Leiter, and of course that British guy Kevin Williams @ puritanfellowship.com to name a few) not to parrot them, but to learn from them. I would highly recommend that you study the aspects of the gospel using some good systematic theologies, like Wayne Grudem, Loius Berkhof, Robert Reymond, etc. Another great resource is to read the classics that contain ample evangelistic material, the Puritans for example were incredibly evangelistic in their writings, which is one reason why I so admire them, because it was obvious that they were writing for the purpose of reaching and teaching their hearers, their books were more like collections of long sermons as opposed to entertaining literature. J.C. Ryle also wrote like this, and no he wasn't just writing to 'bible-belt' professors.
Let me then just name a few choice pieces that I would recommend:
A call to the unconverted by Richard Baxter
An alarm to the unconverted by Joseph Alliene
Holiness by J.C. Ryle
Studies on the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Justification and Regeneration by Charles Leiter
The gospel according to Jesus by John Macarthur

Monday, November 2, 2009

J. R. Miller ..better to rot in prison...

Here is a marvelous piece from J. R. Miller, one which is of great encouragement and challenge to fight for holiness!! I just love the quote at the bottom!!!

(J. R. Miller, "Practical Lessons from the Story of Joseph")

"How can I do this great wickedness--and sin against God!" Genesis 39:9
"After hearing his wife's story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison!" Genesis 39:19-20

Sometimes it costs very dearly--to be true to God. Joseph lay now in a dungeon. But his loss through doing right, was nothing in comparison with what he would have lost--had he done the wickedness to which he was tempted. His prison gloom, deep as it was--was as noonday, compared with what would have been the darkness of his soul under the blight of evil, and the bitterness of remorse. The chains that hung upon him in his dungeon, were but like feathers--in comparison with the heavy chains which would have bound his soul, had he yielded to the temptation. Though in a prison, his feet hurt by the fetters--he was a free man because his conscience was free, and his heart was pure!
No fear of consequences should ever drive us to do a wrong thing. It is better to suffer any loss, any cost, any sacrifice--than be eaten up by remorse! Better be hurled down from a high place for doing right--than win worldly honor by doing wrong. Better lose our right hand--than lose our purity of soul. Better to rot in prison--than to sin against God!It was the prayer of a young queen, which she wrote with a diamond point on her castle window, "Keep me pure; make others great." That is the lesson of Joseph's victory over temptation; dishonor, loss, dungeon, death--anything before sin!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The injustice of God

Can God rightly be accused of injustice?


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