Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Laments over facebook

Well I have been on facebook for a while & that is primarily due to the ease of posting & reading via my phone, which if it wasn't for that I would have never got on it.
Now I am fully aware that some have decided to forgo the whole experience altogether, for such noble reasons as not adding any more time consuming activities to their lives. Others have at first participated in it then found it completely unfruitful or for the same reason some blogs remove the ability to comment, they were bombarded with people who only desired to argue. I am also aware that for some it has proven fruitful, they have been blessed by it & they have blessed others through, for such we can say praise the Lord (and perhaps i will blog that which I can rejoice concerning facebook)!
With that said my "laments" are not my arguments for or against the use of facebook, but rather some things to be mindful of, to be intentional about, to pray for etc...and another thing these laments apply more to the avid user then the person that only stops by sporadically
(some "laments" could easily include blogs, forums, even "in person" social gatherings)
1. Time restraint & dating:
Because so many are posting thoughts and the like, time can be of the essence & so often given the time of day or day of the week a really useful quote, comment, link or important prayer request or praise report can be totally missed, and it appears that it's a rarity for someone to actually read things that were posted yesterday (for some yester-hour) unless (hidden rule-i suppose) they have just became your "friend" then it is only customary for them to go back & find something they can add a "like" to.
2. Lack of fuller interaction:
This like many ties into time restraints & overload of comments, but it is regrettable the comments, links, & quotes that don't generate ongoing comments, such that it's not just a passing thought that we reply "amen" to or simply "like" but perhaps a little bit of a explanation why we "like" it so that the convo we just participated in may leave some lasting fruit
3. Overload of MUST SEE/READ/LISTEN links that aren't "musts"
Some well-intentioned believers seem to be blown away by just about anything they come across on youtube, or listen to, or read and feel it necessary to bombard their page with such links, perhaps again they should explain why it's a MUST as opposed to listening/watching/reading just about any other person on the subject etc..
4. Lack of Christ-centered speech
It appears that some believers have nothing whatsoever to share of Christ, perhaps they have nothing to praise God for, perhaps they have no affections to express concerning Christ & His gospel, perhaps they consider their testimony as a private matter to be kept silent, perhaps they don't consider it useful to bless another believer with something that has blessed them, or perhaps they don't think it wise to speak anything of the gospel for their "friends" to see (and especially not talk about sin, repentance, hell, & justice etc..)---sound ridiculous right? Of course---now now before you have a hissy fit ask yourself does he have a point?
5. Lack of honest disagreement
(This lament will also resonate with many bloggers as well) but it takes different formats on facebook, some will throw out a disagreement then they will disappear not responding to any replies, some will comment to something that is a misunderstanding then refuse an explanation (and we all love to be called liars), some will continue to argue (even totally off the subject) ignoring every single reply, even the clearest of scriptural rebuttals..and from time to time you might even have one making posts on their page concerning their disagreement with you but leave out names.
6. Lack of concern for holiness in comments, links, etc
I use the term "holiness" to cover just about all that concerns our witness before unbelievers & our desire to glorify God before all believers (especially "baby" Christians). It is appalling to see believers employ crude speech for the sake of a laugh, or to see married couples express their disappointment with their spouse before all to see, to see some using all their posts to whine, complain & moan about every thing under the sun (I do mean the sin of murmuring, not just simple comments on various things), parents to speak often of their children as burdens, to see some believers boasting in something that may indeed be "permissible" but is CLEARLY something they know many baby Christians stumble over (hmm i think the Apostle Paul made some strong arguments about that---hello, you wanna-be reformed rebels...please grow up.).

I think that sums it up.......O if anything applies to you then please consider applying it to yourself, don't just react & ignore, especially if you got that "is he talking about me"-syndrome , no I'm speaking to whomever it may concern...grace & peace
p.s. your comments will be welcomed :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

a needed resurgence!!

It is unmistakable to ignore the recent rise of interest into Reformed theology, whether that be all that entails reformed theology, or that simply limited to the doctrines of grace. It would be quite difficult to ignore the scriptures emphasis upon truth & it's colossal impact upon our lives, our maturity, our well being, for good theology IS good and necessary for it is simply (or should be) knowing the mind and heart of God (concerning Himself, us, and all things).
Yet the rise of interest & study of such truths does NOT guarantee good fruit UNLESS we seek after such truth for the reasons God desires & with a willingness to apply such truth as God demands.
What is desperately needed in our day above all things is not simply a rise in interest, a rise in talk, a rise in sermons, a rise in blogs, a rise in books, or a rise in churches which affirm & spread reformed beliefs but MOST importantly we should desire and pray for a rise in HUNGER, in THIRSTING after God, a rise in young people who don't simply want to "do" great things for God , but want to greatly "be" with & like God. We need in our day a historical revival of Christians who long to be alone with God, who spend a great deal of time with God. We need not a people who know so-called "prayer warriors" that they can call, but who know well what it is to plead with God, to struggle in intercession. We need a people who can't bear to just listen to men like Piper, like Washer, like Conway, like Beeke, like Tozer, express their hunger, their passion, their pleasures in God, but cry out "O, Lord visit me likewise, I MUST have You too, consume me!" I do fear there are too many that get their passion "fix" from such preachers, yet never resolve to follow in their footsteps, never change their habits.
Far too many young people & especially young ministers (who are SUPPOSED to be examples) seem to consider themselves the strongest of all believers, so strong that they need little time alone with God, so strong that they can without shame expose themselves to filth that none of the preachers (who express much passion for Christ) who they look up to, could ever listen to, watch, or participate in. So strong that they have all the time in the world to keep up with all the current events of the day, all the popular shows, all that takes place in the sports world, even becoming masters in video gaming (which nowadays demands countless hrs), among other hobbies, yet when it comes to time with God, well that's a matter of grace (we mustn't allow ourselves to get discouraged so let's just blow it off--as the reasoning seems to be).
Just recently I was listening to Voddie Baucham tell of a time where (which almost never happens for him) he travelled alone to speak at a church and the pastor who was to meet him at the airport, sent I believe his secretary instead to pick him up. Well Voddie expressed his disappointment with this and refused to drive alone with this lady (as it would violate a principal he stands by) and despite the awkwardness found another means of transportation. Once the pastor of the host church did meet him, he was absolutely confused about what Voddie did, and ask questions along the lines of "Did you do this because you once committed adultery, or perhaps you have great struggles with lust....etc?" to these ridiculous questions Voddie pointed out that it's the fear of his flesh that caused him to do this, that though he DOES NOT currently struggle with any of those things, he doesn't want to BEGIN struggling with them either.----Did u catch that? Now that's a biblical response to life's circumstances, there is a proper understanding of indwelling sin and the need to guard ourselves (while too many today would practically laugh at such restrictions, at such care to maintain a pure life, even a pure testimony. I don't wish to restrict this to one subject, but it is disturbing how many young people make little effort to guard themselves from being alone with the opposite sex--perhaps you don't fall, but what about those who follow your example?).
Wouldn't it be great if there was such a rise that many who came to such truths, began to do radical things for God, became so obsessed and consumed with Christ that they could hardly be moved by anything else, such a rise that many of us more "mature" believers would be greatly convicted & encouraged??? Would you pray for such things, do you desire to see such changes in the church, in your church, in your life, in your children even??
Then OUT of that hunger, OUT of that doctrinal foundation, OUT of that personal pursuit of biblical holiness & enjoyment of God, there would be fruitful, God-glorifying, praiseworthy, teaching, preaching, writing, fellowshipping, reading, living, singing, and spreading of the glorious truths found in the doctrines of grace, the doctrines of scripture!

John Piper and BIOGRAPHIES

Pastor John Piper (*despite any reserves you may have towards him (and i do NOT agree w/all that he has done or said), he is nonetheless a well respected minister of the gospel and one we can learn much from) has made it a practice to do a biography on godly men of the past at his desiring God conference.
It's his motive that is grounded in scripture which makes such historical sketches so important. in his own words (which is often worded differently from time to time):

I have often turned to Hebrews 11 as a biblical warrant for loving and reading biography. But more recently I have been more struck by Philippians 3:17 where Paul says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." This is very striking. Paul himself is one step removed from Jesus, the great example. And yet he calls us to "join in imitating me." Then he says: Keep your eyes on, or fix your gaze on, those who walk according to the example you have in us. These people are now two steps removed from Jesus. Paul follows Jesus, these people walk according to Paul's example, and then we are told to imitate them. So we are three steps from Jesus. But the wording is even more striking. It says, fix your eyes (Greek skopeite) on them. Watch them closely. Don't lose sight of them. It seems to me that this is one of the most powerful warrants in the Bible for fixing our attention on the saints who have lived lives that are so exemplary—flawed, but still exemplary.

Now this is a solid foundation for motivating ALL believers to put effort into studying the lives of those God has seen fit to bless & bring forth much fruit through. It is regrettable that so few Christians have any knowledge of Christian history, of the most important & useful history available to us. Now there are some "history buffs" that speak of history & their love for it, but usually such 'love" seems more to do with unresearched novelties, more along the lines of history-based entertainment, what is often found on television or even worse movies.
Now I suggest & hope that u will put some effort into learning about church history for it is OUR history, it is indeed HIStory, some may find great delight in discovering the roots of their "family tree", but o what a better "family" tree with firmer eternal roots is found in the lives of God's people. With such knowledge we have the opportunity of learning from the victories and losses of others, we have the opportunity to praise God all the more for His grace and we have the opportunity to increase our faith, our expectation by seeing what God has done!

back to Piper:
Piper also does something which is very important when dealing with biographies, he seeks to point out what the person stood upon: in otherwords Piper desires to bring out the theological foundation which a person moves from, this is CRUCIAL to grasp, especially in light of so many biographers who deceitfully disguise the theological beliefs of a person because they themselves don't share those convictions but still want to present that man/woman in a good light (this happens often with popular preachers & missionaries of the past, like Spurgeon, Mueller, Carey, Newton who are clearly Calvinistic/Sovereign grace-minded men---hence the importance of objective biographers).
John Piper also (as to be expected & praise the Lord for it) attempts to point out the HEART/affections of his biography, he seeks to shed light upon their passion for God (their "desire" for God), their intimacy, their devotion towards Christ!

Lastly I would wish to point out that going to Piper for his biographical sketches is a great way to BEGIN looking at such lives, more akin to an appetizer, his sketches are exactly that, sketches and that done in a typical Piper devotional manner. There are indeed times (just a few) i think his conclusions are wrong and some observations or comments unnecessary, but overall they are of much use & good for all to read or listen to.
Here is a link to his biographies:
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/by-title

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Be mindful of false motives for salvation

It would do us all well especially in times of peace & prosperity to be mindful of false motives of so-called professors of Christianity. By 'times of peace & prosperity' i mean anytime there may be some sort of gain that might be commonly associated with being a Christian.

I would beg you to be mindful so that you will get in the habit of inquiring much more then is normally done. Salvation is of such importance that great care should be taken to share & explain it. Given the shallow, shaky, & dilluted presentations of the gospel found so often today, we should desire to explain the gospel in greater detail.
Sometimes it is difficult to exhort someone when it comes to something like this because a checklist simply won't do: what is needed above all is a geuine concern for the soul of the person you are speaking to, a concern that surpasses your desire to be brief, the desire to 'count' this person as another 'convert' of yours or attender of your church and your desire to not offend this person.
I have many times run across different situations where someone was expressing a desire to receive Christ OR they simply professed to be a follower of Christ and the varying reasons are numerous: some profess Christ when they are within a peer group that is 'doing it' too (like childrens church, youth group etc), some young people will make professions in order to please parents, some to 'get' affection/attention from parents, some will go through a time of great struggle (failing marriage, sickness, joblessness..etc) and will show great interest in following Christ not as Savior from their sins or Lord of their life but as a quick fix, as a pain reliever. Some will even speak of sin, not because they hate their sins because of a new found love for God, but because they hate the consequences of their sin: this is quite common when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and/or sexual addictions (and other things), the consequences of these sins come quicker then most sins & it's not uncommon to find unbelievers disgusted with such sins.
Whatever the reasons given by the person, it is good to 'dig deeper' to see why someone is expressing a desire to come to Christ. It is good to re-explain the gospel, it's need & it's effects (the 'fruit' of real saving faith) as well as stressing the cost of following Christ (which includes the reality that many life circumstances/situations may not get better). All in all i am saying we should give everyone an honest explanation (and expectation) of the gospel.

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