Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Benefit of a Confession of Faith

This little volume is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as assistance to you in controversy a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give an account for the hope that is in them. Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is "the truth of God", against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.
Let your lives adorn your faith; let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Pastor

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finding The God of The Bible

A right conception of God is not only basic to sound theology, it is also
basic to everyday practical living. We will only move in the direction
of our mental image or understanding of God. One of the greatest
issues that we face on a consistent basis is what we think God to be
deep in our hearts.
Our concept of God and all that He is shapes what we think God is and what God does. Even our worship of God is shaped by these concepts. These concepts will determine whether our worship is theo-centric or ego-centric.
John Calvin wrote, "True and sound wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves." He also wrote, "It is necessary always to begin with this principle - to know the God whom we worship."
Rabbi Jack Bemporad once wrote, "Men believe in the kind of God they wish to believe in and reject the kind of God they dislike." We would certainly not look to Rabbi Bemporad for any sound biblical theology or praxology, but we can certainly see the validity of his point and find it useful. The error of his thinking lies in the fact that he seems to think that we need to adjust our theology o our desires rather than recognizing that we must adjust our theology to who God really is. If we don't we become idolaters.
The end product of devising a God of our own imagination is very serious. When we devise a God of our own imagination, liking, desires, or even understanding we are creating a false god. This false god is an idol. We become idolaters. The truth of the matter is that in this post-modern world much of evangelicalism has imagined a God to fit shallow theology or praxology.
The danger we face today is becoming guilty of what Christ charged the Samaritans with when he talked with the woman at the well. Jesus said, "You worship what you do not know..."
God has revealed much about Himself in His Word. Let's go back to the bible so that we can worship, serve, and fellowship with the God of the bible that enriches our soul and magnifies His glorious character!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Actual Church Signs

Meet The Man Behind The Myths

John Calvin's name evokes powerful images, most of them negative. In the minds of many, he is perceived as an ivory-tower theologian who was harsh and unreasonable, the driving force behind a dangerous theological system. In this volume, Burk Parsons and eighteen other leading Reformed pastors and scholars authoritatively reveal the truth about Calvin and his teaching - that he was humble, caring, pious, Scripture-saturated, and, above all, passionate about upholding the glory of God. Published in conjunction with the five-hundredth anniversary of Calvin's birth (2009), John Calvin: A Heart For Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology offers a highly readable portrait of a man whose example and teaching remain vitally relevant even in the twenty-first century.
These comments are on the back cover of this new book. I strongly recommend this book. It has caused my heart to soar, my eyes to fill with tears, and caused me to love my redeemer and redemption in a greater way.

How Goes The Race? Part III

Yesterday we talked about running our race with endurance, we are not to be swerved from our purpose and loyalty even by persecutions or trials, because of the parade of saints, because of the fact that the OT saints even though they suffered intense persecution like torture, death, hardship, starvation, homelessness and nakedness ran their race with success. Run your race with endurance because of the preamble to salvation, because of the fact that you have already dropped those things, considered to be weights and even unbelief that would hold you back. Great reasons to run with endurance, right? Well there is a third reason, the writer gives to exhort these readers to run with endurance and that is because of The Perfect Savior. “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” “…consider Him…” The readers are told to do two (2) very specific acts, they are to look to Jesus and they are to consider Jesus. Our writer points his readers to Jesus. He does so to use Him as the supreme example in order to run their race without failing or returning to Judaism. The word looking means to turn the eyes away from other things and to fix them on something. It can also mean to turn one’s eyes to a certain thing. Both meanings apply here in our text. To run successfully, to run with endurance takes one thing more than just realizing that the OT saints ran successfully, or that one has already thrown off the weights and sin that would keep one from running successfully, it takes a concentrated commitment to turn away from everything else and to concentrate on one thing. C. S. Lewis wrote that “there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious.” Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Delight your self in the Lord!” Nehemiah 8:10 makes it so clear, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” How do you find strength to serve, to remain faithful, to obey, or to run with endurance? By simply enjoying the Lord. When you enjoy Him that joy of owning Him as your own propels you with great energy to overcome, to be obedient, and to run with endurance. Richard Baxter said it so well when he said, “May the living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him and delighting in him may be the work of our lives." Matthew Henry said, “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” John Piper wrote, “This is the great business of life – to put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks. I know of no other way to triumph over sin long term, than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God."
So, let me ask you, where are you looking this morning? Where do you find delight and pleasure? Are you gazing intently to Jesus? Or, are you occupied with other things? You know, when He gave us Himself, He gave us the best that He could give us.
Why do you look anywhere else for anything else?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How Goes The Race? Part II

Yesterday we took at look at this passage and saw that these first century readers were to run their race not thinking about those in chapter eleven as spectators who were watching them, but thinking of their testimony as examples exhorting them on in faithful endurance. You and I are also exhorted to run our race given to us by our Lord with endurance. We need to frequently visit chapter eleven and meditate on this parade of witnesses as encouragement to run with endurance. There is a second reason that our writer exhorts these readers to run with endurance and that is The Preamble to Salvation “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…” The word here in our text means a bulk, a mass. Whatever is prominent, like protuberance, bulk, or mass. As a result it came to mean a burden, weight, or an encumbrance. Since our writer is using an analogy to the Greek races, we are led to think of the runners in these early races who would remove anything and everything that would hinder or impede them while running. For example clothing would be removed so as not to bind them up, many runners actually ran naked so that even the lightest and least restrictive clothing would not hinder them. Some runners would even shave every follicle of hair on their body to reduce even the minutest hindrance or encumbrance. Secondly, let’s look at the sin which so easily ensnares us. What is that? Well read a dozen commentaries and you can get 13 different answers. The first thing we encounter when we examine this word is the fact that this is the only time it is used in the NT. So, we can’t go to different contexts and see how other writers used it. We are limited to this one usage to determine its meaning. It is a compound word, three different Greek words are put together to construct this word. It includes within its meaning “readily, deftly, cleverly and to place itself around. It gives the idea of quickly, easily, cleverly encircling around something or someone, like a runner. So, the weight is anything that hinders or encumbers, or slows down a runner and the ensnaring or encircling sin is the sin that cleverly wraps itself around a runner and prevents a runner from running or especially from winning the race. Now, something about this phrase bothered me. I could not put my finger on it. Every commentary made an immediate and direct application to modern day readers like you and me to put off any weight that would hinder you and me from running our race. They mentioned weights like pride, hobbies, amusements, bad habits, TV, worldliness, improper attachments to things, and etc. But what bugged me was the tense of the verbs. They are in the aorist tense not the present tense. It kept coming at me that these readers had already done this, not that they were to do it. The question came to me then, when did they do this? Keep in mind even the analogy of the race is not saying that these runners had weights on their body or in their hand and then as they were running they dropped them off. How silly is that? They had already taken the steps to remove any weights and the sin before they ran. So when did they do this and what does this phrase really mean? Well, you have to ask the question who is speaking in this text? And when you determine that you must ask and answer who is being spoken to? First century Jews who had become believers in the messiah and were part of “Christian churches” that is the “who”, who is being spoken to. So, the question is why is our writer reminding them of this? Well, as Perry Mason would say after Hamilton Burger objected, that goes to motive your honor. Let’s take a minute and look at the motive our writer had in writing this letter and this exhortation. After a number of readings of this letter and intense study on more than one occasion I am convinced the our writer is writing to believers, to people whom the writer believes to be believers, who are also Jews who have been formerly practicing Jews. These Jews have been persuaded by the HS to place their faith and their trust in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. When they did that they did something to immediately make them an enemy of their fellow Jews and to precipitate persecution. The demonstrated their faith and commitment by baptism. Which is natural right? The great commission tells us to make disciples and one part of making a disciple is to baptize them. Those on the day of Pentecost who gladly received His word were what? Baptized. There was no such thing as an un-baptized believer in the early church. Yes, they taught and instructed the new believer and wanted evidence of true conversion before they did baptize, but there is no evidence of believers fully admitted into the church without baptism. Their baptisms were a little different than ours. When we baptize it is in one of our buildings, normally with family and friends in attendance. But here in the first century, baptism was outdoors, very public and the Jews would know who had left Judaism for “Christianity” and they would immediately condemn them as unclean, which means they could not worship or offer sacrifices in the temple, they were put out of the synagogue, they were ostracized, and they would even be subject to abuse like being spit on, stones thrown at them, public insults and defamation's, and sometimes families would hold funerals to show that they were dead to them. Many times the believers would loose their jobs. They would be unable to work in the communities because they would be considered unclean. So, becoming a believer, or a disciple of Jesus and then submitting to baptism would bring persecution, sometimes, intense persecution. These believers – and there is no evidence to believe that the writer to the Hebrews were not believers were undergoing intense persecution. So intense was the persecution that they were thinking of abandoning Christ, the church, and returning to Judaism with the rituals, ceremonies, feasts, and sacrifices. Now, at their conversion, they had laid aside rituals, ceremonies, feasts, sacrifices, and such in order to turn from them and to turn to Jesus Christ as their means of salvation. These things are weights now that the shadow has been fulfilled by the substance. These are weights that would hinder them from running the race before them, so they threw them off at their conversion. The sin mentioned in verse 2 is unbelief, or lack of faith. Lack of believing can very easily, cleverly, quickly, encircle and ensnare one and keep one from believing. So, our writer tells these believers since you have already laid these things aside, including unbelief, run the race that is before you, that God has given you with endurance, steadfastness, or constancy. Endurance, meaning the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials or sufferings. It means patiently, and steadfastly, with a patient, steadfast waiting for something, or patient enduring, sustaining, and perseverance So, run the race with endurance, do not be swerved from your purpose and loyalty even by these persecutions or trials, because of the parade of saints, because of the fact that the OT saints even though they suffered intense persecution like torture, death, hardship, starvation, homelessness and nakedness ran their race with success. And run your race with endurance because the preamble to salvation, because of the fact that you have already dropped those things, considered to be weights and even unbelief that would hold you back.
Great reasons to run with endurance, right?

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Goes The Race? - Part I

Gospel Driven Disciples are those who are truly Christ’s. They have been entered into a race in which they have been given all the tools necessary to run the race and to win the race. Running takes endurance. You would not know it by looking at me today but I use to run 6-12 miles a day. Let me assure you it took endurance. Running the race that God has given each one of us takes endurance. Where does that endurance come from? How do we maintain endurance? I think we can find some answers in a well known passage of scripture in Hebrews 12. This passage is about faithful endurance. We are to run our Race with endurance. This passage identifies three elements necessary to run the race with endurance, the exhortation to run, the explanation to remember, and the expectation to renew. So let’s begin by looking at the first element necessary to run with endurance and that element is …THE EXHORTATION TO RUN, which is found in verses one and two. The main verb in this sentence is in the phrase, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, …” First of all, the recipients of this letter are exhorted to run. The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to run for three (3) specific reasons. The first reason he exhorts them to run is that he reminds them of … The Parade of Saints The first word in verse one (1) is the word “therefore”. Most of you have been around long enough to have heard someone say, “That when ever you see a therefore, look to see what it is therefore.” This word reaches back and gathers together all that was said in chapter eleven (11), and especially what he had said in verse 39. “and all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise…” The following two words, “we also” do not go with encompassed about, but they are connected to “let us run” In other words, just like those of chapter eleven ran, the readers are to run in the same manner, the same way, by enduring faith. The OT saints in chapter eleven are the witnesses that encourage these readers to run their race with enduring faith. The word cloud is the word that describes a great mass of cloud covering the entire visible space of the heavens. According to Kenneth Wuest, the use of cloud for a mass of human beings is familiar in early Greek poetry. For example, Homer writes about “a cloud of footmen, a cloud of Trojans.” The question that needs to be settled then, is what kind of witnesses are these? The word is martus meaning “one who testifies, or can testify to what he/she has seen or heard, or knows by any other means.” We know it as witness. Origin, an early church father somewhat redefined this word in his day by using to describe those believers who proved the genuineness of their faith in Jesus Christ by undergoing torture or death. We now know this word as martyr. The important thing to note here is that this word does not contain the idea of a person looking at something, of that of being a spectator. The heroes if you would of chapter eleven are a mass of witnesses that testify to the efficacy of their faith and the faith way of salvation and even victory. Our writer uses them as witnesses to exhort these first century believers that the Messiah and His work on the cross is appropriated by faith not by rituals, ceremonies, or sacrifices. So, let me once and for all put aside any idea that your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, favorite teacher or preacher is looking down from heaven right now watching and cheering on you on in your Christian life. First of all, your loved ones in heaven are so enthralled with Jesus Christ and His glory that they are not in the least concerned about you today. Secondly, if they could see how we really are running our race they would be saddened and heaven would not be heaven. It does not matter if Vincent or Alford or others insist on it, it just ain’t so! So, these first century readers are to run their race not thinking about those in chapter eleven as spectators watching them, but thinking of their testimony as examples exhorting them on in faithful endurance. You and I are also exhorted to run our race given to us by our Lord with endurance. We need to frequently visit chapter eleven and meditate on this parade of witnesses as encouragement to run with endurance.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are you Listening?

In The Company of Calvin...
"As the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God. By service, I mean not only that which consists in verbal obedience, but that by which the mind, divested of is own carnal feelings, implicitly obeys the call of the Spirit of God."
--John Calvin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Partners with an Unchangable God

Malachi 3:6 reads, "For I the LORD do not change..."; Numbers 23:19 reads, "God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind, and we read in James 1:17, "...with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (ESV)
Our confidence in God lies in the fact that God never changes. God does not grow or develop. There are no variations in God. God is what He has always been and will forever be. We are confident in God because we know that God is not going to change His mind and leave us hanging. If God were to change His mind on one thing, how could we ever have confident assurance that He wouldn't change His mind on something else, say our eternal salvation?
There are at least two truths that we as children of God can be absolutely confident in: there is no quantitative change in God or His character. God does get any smarter, does not learn anymore, He does not develop further or grow in His attributes, character or nature.
The second truth that we can have absolute confidence is in the fact that there is no qualitative change in God. In words God is not like wine or women, He does not get better with age.
God has determined His will and plan from all eternity. Those plans are unchangeable. He is absolutely sovereign. Nothing can alter His plans, change His plans, thwart His plans or hinder His plans.
Never mistake the sovereignty of God or the immutability (unchangeableness) of God with fatalism. These characteristics of God do not breed cases of Serra Serra, or whatever will be will be, or what was or was not meant to be. In living with these characteristics of God, we are brought to a point of submission to the will, wisdom, and working of God realizing it is His best for us and we can rejoice in and magnify His character and nature o a watching world.
It is true that God has determined His plan but remember it is also true that He has ordained the means of achieving His plan. The means He has ordained often include you and me. We are partners with God as the means by which He uses to bring about His plans.
Think of it, we are partners with an unchangeable God as means by which God brings about all that He has determined by His unchanging character!
What's on your agenda today?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time Flies - Don't Let It Get Away!

Benjamin Franklin put it very succinctly when he said, "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of." Time is the most important commodity that we have in this life. Yet, we so very often take this precious gift for granted by simply thinking that we have more time. Solomon, as the wisest man ever to live, reminded us there is a proper time for everything in life, including death. The Apostle Paul counseled the Ephesian believers to redeem, or buy up the time available to them as wisely as possible. The apostle exhorted his readers to rescue or recover their allotted time from waste in order to improve the time that was allotted to them for greater and nobler things. Harleigh M Rosenberger wrote most discerningly about time: "Life is like a fine piece of Oriental tapestry put together with many exquisite strands, it has the gold of success, the crimson of suffering, and the somber hues of sorrow. We can, by the direct help of God, weave these threads of time into a colorful pattern of loveliness and wisdom." The time that has been allotted to us by God is extremely precious. It must not be taken for granted. It must be treated with the greatest of care, why? Time is limited by God. Buy up every moment of time, use it for the betterment of mankind and for the glory of God. Don't come to the end of your time and be forced to write the following advertisement once printed in the lost and found of a newspaper: "Lost --- several golden hours, each set with 60 diamond minutes, somewhere between sunrise and sunset yesterday. No reward, for they are gone forever!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Entirely and Altogether God's

I am slowly reading through and chewing on some excerpts from the diary of Jonathan Edwards. I am hoping to find some principles and admonishments that as I contemplate them will draw me closer to God.
His entry from January 12, 1723 captivated me. In this entry he renews what he calls his "baptismal covenant" and "self-dedication." I will only include a few lines of this covenant. As I do it is my prayer to renew myself and my commitment to God in a similar selfless manner.
Listen...
"I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have to God; so that I am not in any respect my own." "Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members - no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell or, this taste. I have given myself clear away, and not retained anything as my own."
He then writes his 42 and 43 resolution. The 42 resolution states "Resolved to renew my dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism, which I solemnly renewed when I received into the communion of the church, and which I have solemnly re-made this 12th day of January 1723." The 43 resolution states, "Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's; agreeably to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12, 1723."
This morning, March 22, 2009, I resolve by His grace, to give myself without reservation to my God as His servant, holding nothing back and to act as altogether His."
I know that Romans 12:1 calls for us to this as a once and for all act, but I know me. Periodically I have jumped down off of that altar of sacrifice and I need to jump back up there.

THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD

This morning we are considering "The Being of God." As we take a look at God as a "being" the first thing we note is that ultimately in our finite state God is incomprehensible. Let me say right here at the outset we have to be aware of several important truths. If we fail to consider these truths we begin to tread on some very dangerous ground. Often times we are guilty of concocting a god in our own imagination. Bible writers when trying to explain or define something about God often used words such as "like", "appearance", or "likeness." The writer is telling us that something about God is like something that we already know. This comparison helps us to understand something about God. When the bible states that we are created in the image of God, we can not think that this means “exact” imagine. The creator and the creature are not alike in their essential being. When we think of God, we can never forget what God is not. In other words, whatever we visualize God to be, He is not that. The problem with trying to visualize God is whatever things we use in our mind to imagine God have been created by God, therefore they are less than God, and they are not God. If we try to imagine what God is or what God looks like then we have created an idol. An idol of or in our mind is just as offensive to God as if we had carved a statue out of wood, stone, or metal. So, it goes that God is incomprehensible. We can not know all that God is. Nicholas of Cusa said it this way, “The intellect knoweth that it is ignorant of Thee, because it knoweth Thou canst not be known, unless the unknowable could be known, and the invisible beheld, and the inaccessible attained.” [1] If we are left totally to ourselves, without guidance of the bible, the HS, pastors, teachers, etc. we will concoct a god that is both manageable and acceptable to ourselves. The human mind, apart from God, wants a god that it can understand and control. Job 22:21 says, “Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.” Zophar asked this question, “…canst thou by searching find out God?” Jesus said, “…nor does anyone know the Father accept the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Not everybody can know God biblically and especially salvificly – only those whom Jesus determines to reveal God to can know God. It is only God Himself as He pleases that enables anyone to be persuaded that there is a God. Remember that the “god” of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers and this “god” keeps them from seeing the light and the truth unless and until God is pleased to enable them to "see" by opening their hearts to the truth.(II Cor 4:4) So, at the very beginning we find that we can never fully understand God. He is incomprehensible in the fullest sense. We can only be and therefore must be satisfied with knowing what we can know as God reveals Himself to us by His Son, Jesus Christ. (Matt 11:27) [1] Nicholas of Cusa, The Vision of God (E. P. Dutton & Sons, New York, 1928) p. 60

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Born Again American or Born Again Christian?

Abraham Lincoln once said, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher..." Hebrews 5:12-14 reads, "...though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food....solid food belongs to those who of full of age, that is, those who have by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." If there is any danger among us or springing up from within us it is the lack of spiritual discernment. I have started this blog a number of times tonight. My heart is aching with grief and it has caused me to stumble at getting my thoughts down on paper. If I were actually writing with a pen on paper I would have by now wadded up and thrown into the corner about a half of ream of paper. I am grieved because so many people seem to have reverted back to or are stuck on milk. There is a lack of exercise in this country, particularly in the so called evangelical church. It is difficult to detect the ability in the evangelical world to discern between good and evil. I was emailed one of those all-American, feel-good, warm and fuzzy songs with a political, religious, and commercial message. It is called The Born Again American. The object no doubt is to get the adrenaline flowing in your system, your heart beating faster, and the tears flowing from your eyes. As you hear about the loss of jobs, increasing poverty, and inequities you are suppose to rise up and do something about it. The expectation of course is that you sign their petition and join their cause. Where is discernment in this age? If you listen to this song carefully you will find that "people" are more concerned about having their lives disrupted or not receiving there fair share than they are about the spiritual condition of this country. Patriotism, redistribution of wealth, punishing the "haves" is seemingly now more important than recognition of sin, repentance, and the need to trust in a Sovereign God. The prevailing words in this song are "unfair"; "despair"; the need for "hope for some." Where is the call for repentance, for the admission that we have violated the standards of God? Where is the realization that the message of this song is ego-centric rather than theo-centric? Oh yea, that would take discernment wouldn't it. It just might be that the problem lies in the fact that we really are "born again Americans" and not born again Christians. Yes, we can and should be involved in the political process, yes we can and should hold politicians accountable. The problem lies in the fact that we blurr the gospel, the sovereignty of God, and the real need when we use "Christian" ideals, language, and genre to "right the wrongs" of a society that is not Christian. We certainly blurr the gospel when we partner with those who do not know the gospel and do not obey it. Paul told Timothy to teach believers to pray for those who are in (government) authority. We are to preach the gospel to every creature. We can never legislate righteousness or establish a Christian utopia regardless of how clever our songs of unity and right are. Do you really want to right wrongs? Do you really want equality? Preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit change the hearts and lives of people. Let's pray, labor, and sing about sin, brokenness, repentance, and a spiritually changed life. Let's pray that a sovereign God gives us discernment and truly causes men and women to be born again. Let's forget about waking Americans up and causing them to become mere patriots which we now sing about as "born again Americans."

Resolutions and Reformation

Having advised my Adult Bible Class to forget about traditional "resolutions" this year, I suggested they take a look at the Seventy Resolutions of JE. (Jonathan Edwards). I suggested that we make a resolution against resolutions and to strive for reformation of life. I love his preamble if you would to his seventy resolutions: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake." I too, realize that I cannot do anything for His glory that will stand the test of His judgement apart from His specific and yes gracious enabling. I am in much need of His grace all of the time for any lasting and righteous change to take place in my life. It is such a shame (and sin) that we so easily forget the need of being dependent upon God. I tremble at the thought of how much "for His kingdom" I have attempted in my own energy. I need constant reminders that no matter how busy life can get or how involved I am in ministry, it is by God's grace that I can accomplish specifics task for the glory of God. So, what will it be this year? Traditional resolutions or reformation of life by God's grace?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Letter From Dad

Yesterday was my youngest daughter's birthday and today is my third daughter's birthday. One is twenty seven and the other is now twenty eight. As I reflect on this I find myself amazed at where the years have gone. I was able to present at the birth of both of these baby girls. It was an amazing experience as anyone who has been present at a birth knows. Of course as a father you have such high hopes for all of your children. I was 26 and 27 when they were born. Barely old enough to take care of myself and still very immature in Christ. I wasn't yet aware of the sovereignty of our God, let alone His majesty and glorious nature. I wasn't yet familiar with Psalms 139 or Psalms 90. I was still living for myself rather than as a grateful bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ so I didn't have much to pass on to these precious little gifts from God. My older two daughters are in their thirties and I certainly had nothing at the time of their birth and early development to pass on to them. It grieves me now to look back after growing in Christ to the extent that I now have and to think of all that I could have taught them about our magnificent God. Fortunately it seems that God is greater than me and He is working in their lives despite my failures. Now, I want to encourage each of my girls to remember that God has created them in His image. He has given them life. Their days are numbered meaning that the day and manner of their death has already been determined. Girls, you need to live your life to the fullest remembering that we will give an account of our life to Him. Live your lives for the glorification and magnification of His character and nature. Treasure God and desire Him above all things. Trust Him for He who has freely given you His Son for your redemption will give you all things to meet your needs and to enable you to live godly in Christ Jesus. Please read Ecclesiastes and especially chapter twelve very carefully. Girls, for Christ's sake, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all." Now I have some things to pass on to you... I love all four of you very much! Dad

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Awful God

I am re-reading A. W. Tozer’s great book called The Knowledge of God. Once more I am amazed by the “truths” he raises in his introduction. A major point that he raises in his introduction is what he refers to as the “loss of the concept of the majesty (of God) from the popular religious mind.” The church as a whole no longer has the concept of God as majestic, awesome, and to use an old word awful. We have redefined the word awful into something that we now mean as bad or even objectionable. We forget that the word means to be terrified, filled with awe, filled with deep respect or reverence. The view of the church today has lost the deep reverential fear and respect of a holy, majestic, and awesome God. We have concocted a god from our own imagination that we find more pleasant, more appealing, and more human. Therefore we no longer worship and adore the true and living God of the Scriptures. Oh, that the church as a whole would go back to the bible, go back to the true knowledge of God! This knowledge includes God’s awesomeness, His true majesty, and His true holiness. May the church today regain her understanding and appreciation of the fullness of the glory of the living God.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pyromaniac Sets Pornification of Church Ablaze

March 6th, 2009 Posted in In the News, On the Net by wizzard Ok, the headline is a little sensationalistic, but there was some heat being thrown from the pulpit at GCC’s Shepherd’s Conference 2009 this morning. Were I one of those in the pornification arena, I would have felt red in the face. Phil Johnson, of Pyromaniacs and the Spurgeon Archive, showed how Titus 2:7-8 thoroughly denounces the type of contextualization infiltrating modern evangelicalism, and compared such disregard for the authority, holiness, and effectuality of God’s Inspired Word to one of the worst punishible offenses of the Bible. I’d sure never want to expose our youth to that. Give it a listen. (Posted here because one of Phil’s cohorts at pyro asked for it, and my bandwidth here is unlimited)

The Glory of God: Our Supreme Passion

[This article is written by a missionary for other missionaries working in the "Last Frontier." For security reasons, the author must remain anonymous.] Founders Journal · Fall 2000 · pp. 21-22 This is the first and most important of the basic principles of our work. Real Christianity is God--centered. Real Christianity recognizes, as Jesus Himself said, that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Those who have glimpsed the greatness, the grandeur, the majesty and the excellence of our God through the eyes of trust in Jesus never get over that vision. An obsession with the glory of God is the hallmark of true knowledge of God. What is the glory of God? The original meaning of glory has to do with weightiness. The glory of God summarizes the seriousness, the perfection, and the infinite significance of all of the attributes of God. It sums up who He is, in the awesome brightness and weightiness of all His perfections. What does it mean then for us to glorify God? We cannot add to His glory, for He is already perfectly and infinitely glorious. Rather, for us to glorify God means for us to ascribe the glory that is due His Name in worship. It means that we acknowledge His glory by living as though His perfections are as serious and significant as they really are, so that we reflect His glory through a pure mirror. It means that nothing horrifies us more than the thought of bringing dishonor to His glorious Name, and nothing delights us more than to feel His pleasure as we live to the praise of His glory. It also means that we declare His glory among the nations, inviting others to join us in our love affair with His glorious perfection. Glorifying God thus consumes and defines every aspect of our life and witness as well as our worship. We urgently need to recapture the centrality of glorifying God in our lives and work. Too much of what passes for evangelical Christianity in America is man-centered or even self-centered. God is reduced to a means to some other end, whether it be my own self-fulfillment or the welfare of others. The results are disastrous for worship, for discipleship, and for witness. Worship either becomes tepid, or it becomes an experience we offer to people as a sort of consumer product rather than adoration and consecration we offer to God. Discipleship becomes a self-help program that leaves huge areas of life untouched, rather than a life-long love affair with God that lays every area of life on the altar to be consecrated to Him and to be conformed to His image. Witness becomes an invitation to sample a product rather than a royal summons to flee to a sovereign Savior. In effect, we reduce the Good News to mere good advice. If the glory of God is our supreme passion, this will redefine both the goal of our task and the manner in which we pursue that task. The goal of our task is that the earth be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea. Our passion is to see Him receive the glory that is due His Name from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Everything else is simply a means to that end. We are not seeking to add numbers that we can report to the organization; we are seeking to add worshippers to the choir of heaven, who will live every area of their lives to the praise of His glory. This focus invests a new, holy seriousness to discipleship and the life of the church. We are not content unless His glory is proclaimed, reflected, upheld and adored among the people to whom He has called us. The task is not about us, and it's not even ultimately about the nations. The focus is on Him. A passion for the glory of God will also redefine the manner in which we pursue our task. If our supreme goal is to glorify Him, we will not be able to separate our personal lives from our work lives. The way we treat our families, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we spend our money, the way we relate to others, the way we treat our bodies, the hidden attitudes of our hearts, the time we spend nourishing our own relationship with Him, cannot be compartmentalized away from our "work." It is our job to glorify Him in every area of life, not just through the tasks written on our job descriptions. Failure in the former will mean failure in the latter as well. We also cannot accept any means to the end that does not equally bring glory to God. This passion thus has a purifying effect, safeguarding us from the temptation to take shortcuts or utilize worldly means in the pursuit of our work.As I read over the words I have just written, I get overwhelmed with the conviction that I fall very far short of my own counsel. That brings me to my final point. We can only live for His glory by His grace. Apart from His enabling, I can do nothing. And even what I do by His strength is still tainted by my sinfulness, so that it must be covered by the blood of His sacrifice to be acceptable to my holy Father. Bless His Name that both His power and His grace are infinitely sufficient to meet all my need! Brothers and sisters, I plead with you to seek His grace to make the glory of God your supreme passion. It is His supreme passion, and the pursuit of anything else would constitute failure to fulfill our calling