Friday, July 31, 2009

Asking the "Tough Questions" Series - Part II

Am I A Student of the Word? II Timothy 2:15 tells us; “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (ESV) Do I rightly handle the word of truth? What does it mean to rightly handle the word of truth? Paul begins to deal with false teacher beginning in chapter two and verse fourteen. He completes his thoughts about false teachers in chapter three verse nine. Paul demonstrates that false teachers are devastating and destructive in the body. He shows that they are argumentative and wrangle over words. As a matter of fact Paul states that false teachers quarrel or fight about “words.” Of course we know that the outcome of such behavior is division, confusion, and destruction to a church. On the other hand, God expects his workman to be different. We who handle the word of God must labor diligently with great effort to properly interpret or divide the word. This means that we must be able “to cut straight or to cut straight ways.” We have the idea that we are able to proceed on straight paths or to hold a straight course. This word is the equivalent to doing right. So we must be able to make straight and smooth “cuts” or interpretations of the word and to handle the word of God correctly, being able to teach the truth directly and accurately. The workman who interprets the word does not change, mutilate, distort, or pervert the word of God. The end result will be that we are approved by God. Our word approved is a great word with a rich meaning. The word means “accepted, pleasing, and acceptable”, particularly of coins and money. Donald Barnhouse makes this comment about “approved” In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called "dokimos" or "approved"
So, the question is still before us to answer. Am I A Student of the Word? Do I rightly handle the word of truth?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Time Blues?

Summer is certainly here, particularly this past week in the Northwest. Temperatures are far above my comfort level! Yet, setting aside rising thermometers and overworked air conditioners, summer is a time when it seems like there is not enough time for me.
There are so many projects that need to be done and so many things that need attention. Between yard work, home repair, car maintenance, and personal projects, necessary things can get lost. I struggle to maintain proper priorities during the summer. Beautiful days and warm temperatures call me to be lazy, to spend more recreational time than normal causing some important things like blogs, reading, prayer, and other spiritual exercises to be relegated to second place.
Weeding the yard and weeding my soul are both important enterprises, and making time for both is my challenge. God has given us days with more daylight, days with less rain, and warmer temps, all of which are wonderful gifts - yet greater temptation for me.
I trust that as you enjoy your summer that you have developed priorities to accomplish all that needs to be done and maintain your close walk with your Lord. I wold be interested to hear of some of your projects and how you exercise discernment in priorities.
May God bless us richly this summer and keep us from any summer time blues of ignoring Him and any spiritual disciplines!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

To God all Praise and Glory!

"Let them thank the LORD for steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men!" (Psalms 107:15 ESV)
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
"All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above"by Johann J. Schuetz, 1640-1690
1. All praise to God, who reigns above, The God of all creation, The God of wonders, power, and love, The God of our salvation! With healing balm my soul He fills, The God who every sorrow stills,--To God all praise and glory!
2. What God's almighty power hath made His gracious mercy keepeth; By morning dawn or evening shade His watchful eye ne'er sleepeth; Within the kingdom of His might Lo, all is just and all is right,--To God all praise and glory!
3. I cried to Him in time of need: Lord God, oh, hear my calling! For death He gave me life indeed And kept my feet from falling. For this my thanks shall endless be; Oh, thank Him, thank our God, with me,--To God all praise and glory!
4. The Lord forsaketh not His flock,His chosen generation; He is their Refuge and their Rock, Their Peace and their Salvation. As with a mother's tender hand He leads His own, His chosen band,--To God all praise and glory!
5. Ye who confess Christ's holy name, To God give praise and glory! Ye who the Father's power proclaim, To God give praise and glory! All idols under foot be trod, The Lord is God! The Lord is God!To God all praise and glory!
6. Then come before His presence now And banish fear and sadness; To your Redeemer pay your vow And sing with joy and gladness: Though great distress my soul befell, The Lord, my God, did all things well,--To God all praise and glory!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Asking the “Tough Questions” Series Part I

Am I godly? Do people consider me to be a godly person? Titus 2: 12 reads, “…training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self–controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (ESV) What does godly mean? Godly or godliness has reference to a manner of life that is centered on God which is characterized by devotion, holiness, and reverence toward God. We can even say that godliness is a combination of an attitude of devotion to God which results in conduct that is conducive to the attitude of devotion. The Greek word from which we derive godliness or even piety from is eusebeia. Its original meaning gave the idea of the appropriate attitude that inspired reverence and awe toward and of God. It actually comes from a word that means “to step back” or “to keep a distance.” Almost no one likes to have people violate their “space.” We all have a comfortable distance that we place around ourselves where we want other people to stay out of. When people cross that imaginary line, we become uncomfortable and we expect them to “step back and to keep the proper distance from us.” Most people do, they will step back and keep a “respectable distance” because they “respect” us – not because they worship us or are awed by us. Due to respect and decorum they will step back. Even though we are welcomed to come and to even come boldly in to the presence of God, we come with respect and awe and fear. We come with a proper attitude of reverence and awe because those attitudes are the proper response to his character. Godliness, which is to characterize our lives honors God as both Creator and as Redeemer. Godliness springs from our faith in Christ Jesus and this faith is then expressed in our daily living. The essence of the Christian life is godliness.
So, as I think on these things, I am compelled to ask myself the tough question, do people think I am godly? Do I exhibit the characteristics of a godly man?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Word to the Wise

It is so crucial that we, as members of the body of Christ guard ourselves from becoming points of disagreement or division within our respective churches. Individual local bodies of believers are characterized by a great diversity in personalities, persons, and opinions. We must always be aware how important it is to strive for unity and the bond of peace in our own particular fellowship. The importance of this responsibility can not be overstated! It goes without saying that there will be various opinions on any number of topics. We must guard against dividing the body by how we hold and voice our differences. Differences in opinions can lead to sin. Holding differing views on certain subjects can lead to an unloving attitude towards those who may not believe as we do. Failing to be fully matured or perfected in our opinions and judgments can lead to the following sin in our body: Pride – we begin to think that we are right and others are wrong Critical Spirit – we begin to criticize others for not seeing things as we see them Looking down on those who disagree – we think more highly of ourselves and less of others, and treat them with disdain or disrespect Gossip – our critical spirit seeks release by our tongue and we gossip to others about them and how wrong they are Unfortunately the end result is division, quarrels, and the dilution of the power of the cross of Christ. Let’s take a word to the wise and seek agreement and unity in Christ rather than personalities, persons, and opinions!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where Are The Equipping Shepherds?

The job description of a shepherd is really not that deep or detailed. The job description is not “rocket science.” I would not argue nor would I propose that the qualifications for an equipping shepherd is not far more sweeping, strenuous, serious, and stated than the actual duties. Paul was very direct when he gave to Timothy and Titus the qualifications of the man who desired to shepherd God’s people. Those qualifications should not be discounted, diluted, discarded, or disregarded! In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul tells us clearly that Christ, himself, gave some very important and valuable gifts to the church of which he was the head. The passage is familiar to most; Christ gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and depending on how you interpret tous de poimenas kai didaskalous, shepherd-teachers or shepherds and teachers. Christ gave such gifts for the building up of the church spiritually. God, in His infinite grace gave through Christ men who would accomplish his sovereign decree that those whom he redeemed would be conformed to the image of His dear Son. His Son, Paul writes is the measuring stick, the standard, or the marker by which our growth in likeness is to be measured. The job description (don’t discount or disregard the qualifications) is very simple. Equip the saints! Build up the body! Train, disciple, develop, discipline, and provide what is necessary to be conformed to the image of Jesus is the duty of the equipping shepherds! Equip elders, equip deacons, equip teachers, and equip the saints – through a godly example, godly exhortation, and godly exposition. The question begging to be answered then is equipping them for what? Believers must be equipped in the following areas: Understanding how to pray according to the will of God Proper understand of the privilege of giving Effective Witnessing Living in Christ, worthy of their calling Conqueror sin Devotions Studying the word Understanding of the hope to which they have been called Realizing the riches of Christ’s inheritance in the saints Understanding the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us The lambs, sheep, and people of God need to be shepherded and equipped in such a manner that they are no longer immature, no longer tossed about by every new or deceptive teaching, they need to be able to speak biblical truth in love and to grow up in every way into Christ! This is hard work, isn’t it? That is why so few pastors are true shepherds. Today we face a crisis in the body. Men are not being recognized and developed as shepherds, they are being trained as professional entertainers, businessman, entrepreneurs, and CEO’s. Look at and meditate deeply on the following passages: Galatians 4:19 – “…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” Colossians 1:24-2:3 – “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
Where are the equipping shepherds?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

113 Year Old Vapor

World’s Oldest Man in the World Died Saturday The headlines read that the world’s oldest man died on Saturday, July 18, 2009. Naturally there are a number of reasons that we should certainly take note of this monumental event and person. It seems that Henry Allingham lived to be 113 years old. He was honored as a veteran of WWW I and a member of the Royal Air Force. The news reported that he used his last years to remind people of the sacrifices of human lives that were killed in what is called “the great war.” He is lauded as a great and last spokesman for a terrible war. Let’s however, keep this event in perspective. Admittedly 113 years is a very long time compared to the average life span of human beings, we must keep in mind that as God sees it, it is still a vapor. In comparison to eternity, 1000 or 10,000 years from now, 113 years will seem like a vapor. Mr. Alllingham’s long life is now over. What did he accomplish for eternity? Did he learn to number his days? Did he obtain a heart of wisdom? We certainly do not know, nor am I in any position to make a judgment. For the record, that is not my intent. We all need to celebrate his life and accomplishments, particularly as a veteran who fought to preserve freedom and to save the lives of countless other human beings. Yet at the same time, we need to be reminded once again, that our life is like a mist. Like a mist we appear for a very short time on this earth and then like a mist our life vanishes.
Whether it be 1, 10, 20, 54, 70, 80, 92, or 113 years, in comparison to eternity, our life is a mist. Remember, ask God to teach you to number your days, not in how many you are going to have, but in realizing the shortness and brevity of our life so that we may be given a heart of wisdom by God.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are You Killing Your Zeal?

Practices that kill your zeal for God: 1. Complaining rather than rejoicing
2. Proudly asserting oneself rather than humility before God
3. Attempting to walk by sight rather than by faith
4. Religious activity rather than spiritual ministry
5. Failing to exercise discernment
6. Exchanging holiness for morality
7. Failing to guard your heart

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Not why? – But why not?

After reading the first chapter of Joel this morning, I am reminded again of the grace of God. It is such an unmitigated tragedy that we so often take for granted the grace and blessings of God. We take for granted God’s grace and goodness both, as a nation and personally. There is an equally devastating tragedy that takes place when we hear of or read of a disaster that has taken place. Since it did not happen to us, we take it very lightly. If an earthquake takes place on the other side of the world, we take very little note of it because it did not affect us. No doubt, many may feel a moment of pity for those who are affected so dramatically and some may even feel compelled to donate goods or funds. However, we quickly dismiss it in our thinking. The danger that we need to be made aware of is that we do take it so lightly. We do not examine a disaster or tragedy for the meaning it may have, or that God intended it to have for us. We often ask the wrong questions when a disaster or tragedy does strike closer to home. The first question we usually ask is why? We ask such things as why me, or what did I do to deserve this? The question we should ask ourselves is why not me? Am I any different than anyone else? There is a sober moment in Luke when someone conversing with Jesus told him of some Galileans who had been killed when they had been offering sacrifices to God. No doubt they wanted Jesus to become angry since he too was a Galilean. It is possible they wanted him to become angry and lead some revolt against Pilate in a vengeful quest. Jesus asked them if they thought those who died were sinners more sinful than anyone else because they had been killed. Jesus was telling them that they missed God’s point in this tragedy – the point was that unless those in the crowd repented they would die in judgment also. Events such as 911, the bombing of the World Trade Center, the crash of an airliner, the slaying of a couple who opened their home to children, an earthquake or flood are God’s means of speaking to us. It is useless and dangerous to simply respond with a why me or why us? Those events were either designed or permitted by God to cause us to say why not me, why not us? Unless, I repent, I too will perish.
Let’s hope and pray that we will respond to God’s gracious warning of impending judgment as He speaks to us in this present economical meltdown that we are now facing and respond nationally with repentance. Next time that we read of some disaster or tragedy that has struck let’s not be so quick to treat it lightly, but let’s praise God that He spared us, and search our hearts nationally and personally for sin and repent.
Let's ask why not us?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eight Ways to Know You Are Headed the Wrong Direction Spiritually

1. You no longer have a quiet time or daily devotion
2. You can’t remember the last time you opened your bible
3. You are placing expectations on people around you
4. You are no longer serving or ministering to those in the body
5. You have looked at your watch more than a dozen times in the service
6. You have developed a small lump of bitterness and have begun complaining
7. You have failed to rejoice and to give thanks in everything
8. You have stopped praying and have become independent of God

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waiting Patiently?

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:7-9 ESV) We, who are believers, are waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is no surprise that there are many different reasons why the return of the Lord in glory to the earth is so eagerly sought after. Some reasons no doubt are more noble and glorious than other reasons, yet the hope of Christ’s return is strong. James has written to believers who have been scattered by persecution and suffering. He has found it to be necessary to write to these scattered and suffering believers a letter filled with extremely practical advice and directions. He has written to curb sinful tendencies and responses by human beings under the most trying of situations. James writes in the 5th chapter to wait patiently for the Lord. He encourages them that the Lord’s return is at hand, or immanent. He tells them to wait like a farmer who has planted his crops and now must wait for those crops to develop and grow. One thing stands out in his instructions – these believers are not to grumble or complain about their trials, testings, or tribulations. In fact, they are to patiently endure and refuse any prompting to avenge themselves of wrongs done to them or ill treatment. Right about now we would want to shout, whoa! James knew that under these circumstances that the natural response would be to “fold under pressure” and to respond in at least two ways: 1) When mistreated, especially wrongfully, the natural response is to attempt to avenge oneself. It is easy to take matters into ones own hands in order to get back at some one who is or has mistreated us 2) When under pressure, a natural response is to “loose it” and to take out our frustrations against those closest to us. We are only too aware that husbands and wives are guilt of this more than they would like to admit. James did not want these believers turning on one another in frustration, anger, fear, and impatience and in doing so create irreparable harm to the body of Christ. We must also be on guard both in our home and in the precious body of Christ against the temptation to snap under pressure and create harm to fellow believers. Waiting patiently is not our strong suit. Therefore, we must consistently turn to God through Jesus Christ and trust in the fact that God will right all wrongs when Christ returns to judge those who have mistreated us.
God will set the record straight!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Psalm 52:1 says – “The goodness of God endures continually.” The goodness of God refers to the absolute perfection of His nature. We need to understand that there is such absolute perfection in God’s nature and being that His character lacks nothing, there is nothing defective in His nature and nothing can be added to His Nature. Thomas Manton wrote: “He is originally good, good of Himself, Which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good but goodness itself… He is infinitely good, He is eternally and Immutably good for He cannot be less good than He is…” Arthur Pink wrote: “God is summum bonum, the chiefest good.” Did you know that the original meaning of our English word God is “The Good” Psalm 119:68 says “Thou art good and doest good.” So, all that comes from God – His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providence can only be good. Take just a minute and think of where and when we see God’s goodness: We see the goodness of God in the variety of pleasures He has given to us. We see the goodness of God in His patient withholding of His wrath against sin We see the goodness of God when He gave His Son to redeem us & adopt us as sons Charles Spurgeon wrote: “When others behave badly to us, it should stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto God, because He is good, and we ourselves are conscious that we are far from good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant of unbelief as to the goodness of God, whatever else may be questioned this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good, His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same.”

“The goodness of God endures continually.”

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

Today, much of the Christian community around the world will be marking and celebrating your birthday. What an impressive number of birthdays to contemplate, 500 of them! You had 54 birthdays it seems on this earth as we know it and now, some 446 in heaven. I would not imagine that they mark birthdays in heaven but how heaven has marked your life. I can not add anything to the hoopla, conferences, messages, and books, and all the adulation that have been and will be going on for quite some time. So, I will simply write you a note of congratulation's and thanks. If I understand scripture correctly you have not been rewarded yet for that which you accomplished for Christ and his cause while in the flesh. The dividends are still pouring in to the accounting room of heaven, even as I type these words. Only God knows the full and total impact your life will have made in the Christian community at large, in theology itself, and in the lives of individuals just like me. I remember early in my ministry hearing you vilified as an ungodly, unbearable, and worthless heretic. The acronym that came to be known as TULIP was hated and became a pejorative in my former circles. Of course, no one in my former circle understood the scripture or the character and nature of God as graciously revealed to us in His love letter that we know as the bible. I have come to understand the doctrines of Grace since the early days of my ministry. As a matter of fact I have come to not only understand them but to love them dearly, and would defend them, if need be with my life. John, you have helped me understand God more deeply and for this I am grateful. Thank you for accepting the pulpit at St Peters Church in Geneva. Thank you for the Institutes of Christian Religion. Thank you for your commentaries on the word of God. Thank you for your preaching and writing which by the way, has led me to a deeper understanding, appreciation, and love for our God. By the way, what is he like now that you are face to face? Thank you for being a theologian, pastor, servant, expositor, and such a man of God that I can emulate and hope to be like one day. I especially want to thank you for your dedication and devotion that has led me to make a similar commitment: my heart I offer to God promptly and sincerely!
So, happy 500th birthday, John!

Monday, July 6, 2009

God Meant It For Good!

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people {or a numerous people} should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen50:20 ESV) We know the story only to well. When Joseph’s brothers knew that their father was dead, they became very afraid. They now thought that with their father dead he could no longer protect them and keep Joseph from doing them harm. Of course we know that Joseph never meant to do them any harm at all. He loved his brothers and had long forgiven them. There is no way to be sure if their father really said the things that his brothers told Joseph in Genesis 50:15-18. More than likely he did not say these things. Once again they colluded together to protect themselves. Of course, Joseph then made that great statement that has stood like a rock against a storm that even though their treatment of him was evil, God meant it for good! I believe that it was wrong or evil for the colonists to resist their English Government. I believe that it was sedition, treason, and rebellion as they threw off the crown’s claim on them and this land. The resisted government and therefore they resisted God. There is good, no great news! Even though the colonists were evil and resisted government with evil intentions; God took their sin and used it for his purposes and his glory. God took their rebellion and used it to establish a new nation on this continent with a new form of government that he could use for his glory. It is beyond human reasoning that God would in the light of such behavior bless this nation in such a manner that it would become the greatest nation on earth. We celebrate 233 years of independence not because of what our forefathers did, but in spite of it. The good that God has shed on us cannot be known nor told. If we had an eternity we could not give thanks to God nor praise him for all that he has done for this country in spite of our sin. Yet, when we think of how God has blessed this country we can not help but get teary eyed when he hears these words: O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea! Thank you Lord for 233 years of giving us this opportunity of having such a wonderful place to live, raise our families, and worship thee! Happy Independence Day America! “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people {or a numerous people} should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen50:20 ESV)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day America?

Paul told his young protégé, Titus, to: “…avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus3:9 ESV) There is certainly no doubt that this is good advice for any and all of us at all times. However, having said that, I am going to proffer a “foolish question” (KJV) this morning on our great 233 birthday. Of course, this foolish question comes on the heels of yesterday’s post. What are we really saying when we say, Happy Independence Day America? We are giving credence, congratulations, and confirmation to the end result of a war which was based on rebellion, disobedience, and the resisting of God ordained government. This leads us to several questions: 1) Did God need both the revolutionary war and its outcome in order to complete his glorious purposes?; 2) Would that then make our sovereign God dependent upon the fledgling colonies and their grit and determination to win the war for Independence?; 3) Did God truly do the newly formed United States of America a favor by “ensuring” the fact that we would win the war? These questions come as a result of thinking on Israel’s demand for a king in I Samuel. Israel wanted to be like the other nations and demanded that Samuel give them a king. Samuel was very displeased and tried to warn them about kings and the ways of kings. You know, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.” God told Samuel to warn and inform them and then give them what they wanted. This is a dangerous thing, it could possibly be the most dangerous reality possible, to be given what you want. Everything that we want or think we need is not always or necessarily good for us. It seems that there are times for our correction and training God gives us what we so vociferously demand. There is no argument that God is absolutely sovereign. There is no argument that God used the apostles and disciples to turn the world upside down and to evangelize the known world under Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero not to mention the lesser governors and rulers. God will, under any conditions redeem his elect! There is no argument had we either not rebelled against Great Britain or lost the revolutionary war, God would 1) still be absolutely sovereign and 2) would have stilled called out his elect through missionary efforts. It would be foolish to say that we needed to win the war and be free in order to be a missionary nation or that God could not have as successfully called out his elect among the heathens. Did God give us at that time what we wanted, even to our own hurt? Freedom is a precious commodity. Not many have known freedom. Freedom needs to be carefully guarded and monitored so that it does not become a “prison.” The amount of freedom and independence we have known hasn’t seemed to be much good for us. We are free to kill millions of unborn babies, advocate homosexual lifestyles and marriages, free to expel God from almost any organization in the country. We could certainly go on and on ad nausea. Honestly though, the revolutionary war and the desire for Independence was really over the issue of taxation without representation. The war was the culmination of the political American Revolution, whereby the colonists rejected the right of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them without representation. In 1775, revolutionaries gained control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, set up the Second Continental Congress, and formed a Continental Army. Petitions to the king to intervene with the parliament on their behalf resulted in Congress being declared traitors and the states in rebellion the following year. The Americans responded by formally declaring their independence as a new nation, the United States of America, claiming sovereignty and rejecting any allegiance to the British monarchy. The war was on! How is today any different? Are we not being taxed beyond in reasonable rate? What? Is it different because we are now being taxed with representation? Even as I write this there are T. E. A. (taxed enough already) parties going on around our country protesting unfair, exorbitant, and out of control taxes. We have a government that is out of control and beyond fixing as it increases spending and taxes. Do we have another revolutionary war? Who do we declare independence from? Don’t get me wrong, I was born in the USA, raised here, served in the USMC during the Viet Nam conflict, and I have traveled to and lived in several other countries. I love our country. I love God more, I love his word more, and I love that he is a sovereign God who is able to accomplish his will and purpose irregardless of the powers that be. As a matter of fact it is he who establishes those powers that be and ordains there very existence. I just felt like asking a few questions on this our 233 Independence Day. Was it truly necessary? Was it in line with biblical principles? Did God really do us a favor by ordaining or permitting us to win our independence.
What do you think?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pardon Me, While I Play Devil's Advocate

One of the most difficult roles to play is that of “devil’s advocate.” In common usage a devil's advocate is someone who takes a position, usually a position he or she disagrees with, for the sake of argument. Of course we know that the reason this process is used is to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure. Having stated this definition, I am going to attempt to play the devil’s advocate in this post. My reason is quite simple, a former professor of mine, (whom I love, respect, and have no issue with at all) recently made this statement: “I believe it is no mistake that the America War for independence followed hot on the heels of the Great Awakening: spiritual revival first, then political liberty built on this foundation.” I am going to take the other side for sake of argument because I find this a very difficult position to defend. The question that begs to be answered, is there a correlation or relationship between spiritual revival and political liberty? It seems that when one would be truly revived by God’s Spirit one would be led to humble submission not rebellion and war. Did Paul not tell us in Romans 13:1-7 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” I wonder how the early revolutionists would have responded to the English Parliament had they been asked about their understanding and the intended application of this passage? Do we pick and choose those passages that we want to submit to or do we really believe what they say? How does this passage govern the decision to resist the founding authorities at that time? Another thing about the statement that “spiritual revival first, then political liberty” troubles me – when the Holy Spirit was moving through the Roman Empire and when “the entire world was turned upside down”, there was no revolutionary war to establish political liberty in the Roman Empire. The apostles never called for a new government founded on political liberty. We know Paul wrote Romans 13 under the rule of Nero.
Were the colonists truly following God’s will in resisting their government? Were they right in establishing independence from Great Britain? I would hate to think that the moving of God’s Holy Spirit during the mid 1700’s would be adequate support for sedition, treason, rebellion, and war some 30 or 40 years later.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Cross: A Depiction of God's Glory

In our Adult Bible Class we have been looking at the nature and character of God for quiet some time. It has been an eye-opening, breath-taking, and humbling journey. Recently we touched on an area that led us to contemplate the area in which we saw God‘s glory most depicted. I think the answer may have shocked many of those in our class. The answer was actually very simple; God’s glory is best seen by the cross of Jesus Christ. John Piper wrote: “The death of Christ is the wisdom of God by which the love of God saves sinners from the wrath of God, and all the while upholds and demonstrates the righteousness of God.” As you contemplate the horrors of the cross it is significant to understand the lengths that Christ went in order to preserve and uphold His Father’s glory. You must ask yourself, what was God saying about His glory when he was pleased to bruise and crush (Isaiah 53) His own Son on Calvary’s cross? What was Jesus saying about His Father’s glory when He willingly endured the horrors of the cross? John Piper also wrote: “…the cross demonstrates the infinite worth of God’s glory since Christ was willing to go to such great lengths to uphold the value of His Father’s holy name. It shows that God the Father is an all glorious God who refuses to settle for anything less than being all glorious, and that God the Son loves His Father infinitely and therefore places infinite worth on His glory.” If God, and the Son, take God’s glory so seriously, shouldn’t we? Of course! Let me share a few things to include in your prayer time that will help you promote, preserve, and protect God’s infinite glory. Pray for: An abhorrence of sin To know Christ’s loathsomeness of sin To know by the cross the awful miseries from which you were saved For the ability to ponder the meaning of the cross To adhere to Christ with firm faith To be devoted to Christ with all of your being To detest sin as strong as Christ’s love for you
That holiness is the atmosphere in which you live