Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: Always True

Sadly, most Americans, including most American Christians desire if not expect a grand life free of difficulty or pain. We have a tendency of becoming very adept handling our lives and even a number of lives within our personal and private world. We can cruise along at a good clip, either ignoring or minimizing the bumps that we experience in the roadway of what we call our life.

In the midst of our ups and downs, the easy and the hard, and even the good and the bad disaster can strike. Most times these "hardships" catch us by surprise or unawares. Especially for many American believers today who come to expect that God will always run interference for them weeding out pain, sorrow and suffering preventing it from ever reaching them.

The question however, is when these hardships that we have learned to call trials, tribulations, testings, heart-aches, and disappointments strike, what do we do? How do we respond?  Sometimes these hardships can range from a death of a loved one to a severe illness or from the loss of a job or some type of major set-back. Regardless of the type or nature of a hardship, many of them cause us to become desperate, frightened,  and totally unsettled. What do we do? How will we ever survive the crushing weight of the moment?

James MacDonald took such an incident and time in his life to provide answers for those daunting questions. MacDonald takes us to the Scriptures and gives us answers to the times of when life goes beyond our capability to cope or handle life. He takes us to the promises of God in the Word of God that relate to the character and nature of God. MacDonald chooses and elaborates on five (5) specific promises that a believer can grab on to and use as anchors that keep a believer securely in the place where God would have them all the while giving them the lifeline of hope.

The object of Always True seems to be to enable the believer to first, understand, and then second to internalize these five (5) wonderful and amazing promises in order for them to "become intensely personal, incredibly practical, and profoundly reliable." So Dr. James MacDonald invites you, nay, implores you to "dig deep with me into God's Word. And receive His promises."

This book was of particular interest to me as I am experiencing a major trial in my own personal life at this moment. I was eager to read it, hoping it would provide both hope and help. First, let me say this was a very easy book to read. It gives deep meaning and definition to God's working in our lives through trials or hardships without being technical to the point of distraction or confusion.

Second, this book held my attention from beginning to end. Many times I could not put it down. MacDonald's explanations are crisp, clear, and concise. I dare say that some who read this book will not be able to put it down until they have read it from cover to cover.

Third, in this day and age and "of making many books there is no end" MacDonald's book stands out as a book that is both accurate and helpful. MacDonald does not make wild, unsupported claims or assumptions. Too many books in this genre are inaccurate and give false hope since they are based on false premises or presuppositions. As a reader, this book can be trusted.

Fourth, this book provides the help it promises. The difficulty lies in the individual reader. This book, nor MacDonald can make a reader's hardship to away or lessen in intensity, no can he believe for you. One must determine to take God at His Word and belief that God is sufficient to help in any and every situation.

I heartily recommend this book to any believer, particularly those believers who are experiencing a trial at this moment. Let me say, if I may, I guarantee three things, first, many of you have experienced trials in your past. Second, a good number of you are experiencing a trial at this moment. Third, if you haven't experienced a major trial (which is doubtful), and you are not experience one right now, YOU WILL experience a trial or hardship soon. This book will be a great help and comfort because it provides five (5) great promises from God's great Word, which will give you great help!

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Only True Secret To Church Growth!

The only mul­ti­plic­a­tion of the Church of God that is to be desired is that which God sends. If we add to our churches by becom­ing worldly…if we add to our churches by accom­mod­at­ing the life of the Chris­tian to the life of the world­ling, our increase is worth noth­ing at all; it is a loss rather than a gain. If we add to our churches by excite­ment, by mak­ing appeals to the pas­sions, rather than by explain­ing truth to the under­stand­ing; if we add to our churches oth­er­wise than by the power of the Spirit of God mak­ing men new creatures in Christ Jesus, the increase is of no worth whatever.

 ~ Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Herlong (Part II)

Do you know why they call it Herlong?" "Well, the first people who got here, took a good long look around and said, 'We ain't gonna be here long!'" This is what you hear when you first arrive in Herlong, California. Herlong is an unincorporated community in Lassen County, California. It lies in the high desert in the valley created by the Sierra Nevada Mountain range at about an elevation of 4200 feet. The town was actually built to provide housing for the workers of the Sierra Army Depot which was built in 1942 as an ammunition storage depot. The idea was that it would be far enough away from the west coast to prevent any Japanese bombing attack. Herlong, despite the joke of not being here long was actually named for Captain Henry W. Herlong. Captain Herlong was the first Army ordinance officer to be killed in action in World War II. Herlong peaked in the 1950's at about 5,000 people. It now has a population of about 1,000.

I had made my decision to leave my bible college due to doctrinal, scriptural interpretation, and practical matters. Of course I did not know what to do next, other than pray and worry. Why I worry I don't know. However, if I may digress, I just came across a quote from Hudson Taylor that will be my new motto and worry preventer. When sharing their "status" with Mrs. Taylor, Hudson Taylor told her, "Honey, we have just $.25 cents and all of the promises of God." (emphasis mine) Is that a concept or what?

As I related in Herlong: Part I, my best friend John G. had a cousin, Don E. Don asked John if he would go up and help out in a church that was being planted due to three of his families moving up to Herlong for work on the Sierra Army Depot. John G. said no, he wasn't interested, but that Don ought to talk to yours truly. Don did talk to me. I talked it over with Irene and the Lord and decided to let Don take us up and check out this church.

Don E. owned a Cessna 172 that he loved to fly. As I related previously, he would conduct his services in Grass Valley, CA and fly the 100 miles to Herlong. He would land on a little airstrip in the middle of the desert and be driven to Herlong to conduct services and then fly home in order to conduct his evening service. As you can imagine that was getting old and he needed to be relieved.

Don agreed to fly to an airstrip in Compton, California. Why, I honestly can't remember. If you remember, Compton was the scene of the 1965 Watts Riots where 34 people were killed and over 1,000 injured. It has always been a dangerous city. Irene and I were driven to the little airport there where we met Don and his Cessna. I had been up a few times in small planes. I actually wanted to learn to fly small planes and still do. Irene had never been up in small plane and had only flown once prior to this trip.

We boarded Don's little Cessna and took off. It was quite a ride. We had to stop once for fuel on the 450 mile trip up to the high desert. I think that was because he didn't refuel when he landed from flying down from Grass Valley. We actually enjoyed the ride while at the same time begging God to set it back down on the good ole terraferma. We made the trip without any incident praise God!

We flew in early Sunday morning to the little airstrip. We were met by one of the churches main families in an old green Pinto station wagon and were driven to a beautiful brick community center building at the only entrance to a small housing tract. We walked into the building and began immediately meeting and greeting people. After a few moments Irene excused  herself to the ladies room where she "relieved herself" of the contents of her poor tummy. Her "troubles" reverberated through the tiny building giving everyone a chuckle.

The church was the Sierra View Baptist Church of Herlong. There were four families - Kelly H. and his wife, Mike M. and his wife and kids, Elbert H. and his wife, Mr. & Mrs. Coleman, and a single fellow named Dave M. After we greeted everyone and settled down a bit from the flight services commenced. Kelly led singing for the little group and that morning he introduced me to a song I had never heard before but has since that day became my favorite hymn - Living For Jesus. I love that song.After the "preliminaries" I preached a message. I don't know what the text or theme was. They enjoyed the message and I was beginning to enjoy them.

After the service and lunch they drove us around Herlong. Herlong is seven miles off of Highway 395. Driving up this long access road you will see a trailer park on the left, and near the front gate of SIAD a road to the right to a housing tract where most of the civilians live. The desert is dotted with make shift homes from mobile homes with additions built on, old army buildings moved out and on to desert lots. On the Depot there is section eight housing for civilians whether they work on the depot or not, a bank, a store, and a few businesses for the army and civilians. It is a very interesting place. People are very independent, very self-sufficient, and very unique.

However, as the 1984 Steve Green song says, People Need the Lord. Well, it only takes about 5 minutes to drive around and look at Herlong. So it didn't take too long to see the community and get an idea that there were a lot of "desert rats" living in all types of homes from 5th wheels, Travel Trailers, Mobile Homes, makeshift homes, and old army buildings. After a good lunch we flew to Grass Valley where Don conducted his evening service. We spent the night with Don and his wife in beautiful home tucked in the mountains. The next morning we got up and Don flew us back to Compton. We were picked up by friends and we drove home to West Covina where I needed to think about these wonderful families and the community of Herlong.

It didn't take me long (I had pretty much decided on the flight home) that I was going to accept the call and to to the Sierra View Baptist Church of Herlong. I told Irene of my decision and then called Don. We talked for a bit and then I called the church and said we were coming.

We had taken payments over on a newer car by then. We had taken off the hands of a bible college student who couldn't make the payments and stay in school of a 1979 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon. Irene and I loaded that Dodge up to the gills and then pulled a UHaul trailer behind it. We had filled the trailer to where we almost couldn't shut the door. We had packed stuff on the roof and tied it down and that station wagon was filled from stem to stern with all the stuff we had collected during almost three years in Los Angeles.

The morning came to leave, looking like the Beverly Hillbillies, we fired up that over-loaded Dodge with Irene, myself, Shannon, Sonja, Sharon, and Stacy headed to a little piece of desert 141 miles south of Oregon and 60 miles west of Nevada. Off we went traveling some 450 miles in little over two days.

When we got to Herlong one of the families had a daycare center in an old building that had sort of been a house. The church put us up there and made that our "home" and Irene a ready made job tending the daycare. We rolled up our sleeves and began trying to build that little church and lead it into a church that was something for the Lord.

It became evident very quickly that we were not what these people really wanted. I knew that they had ideas similar to the fellowship and the college that I had just left. However, they had promised me that they wanted the bible taught accurately and whatever the Word said they were willing to comply with. I have discovered that on some occasions the words, "We want nothing but the bible taught accurately" is really code for " We really want the bible taught the way we want it taught regardless of whether it means that or not." I also was naive enough to believe that by simply teaching that bible I could change their well grounded, long held, and unscriptural ideas.

After only 4 months or so I was done. We were not on the same page and they were not going to change. I went to the families and said that I had left behind what they really were and wanted. I did not want to be a part of that philosophy. We agreed that it wasn't working and that they wouldn't hold it against me if we went back to Los Angeles.

Irene and I packed up that Dodge Wagon again. We put all of our worldly goods in that wagon and trailer and with just enough money to get to LA we pushed that little dodge south to southern California. I was devastated. I was a pastor, I was a bible teacher why didn't they see that and get on the same page? How could God let us fail like that? What do we do now? Where do we go? Where will we live? Let me tell you that was a long and miserable trip back to southern, California.

Where would we live? I had no idea. I didn't even have any money, maybe enough for a first months rent. The only thing I could think of was point the Dodge to Pomona and Fernleaf Drive and see if John G would put us up long enough to find a place to live.

Thank God He is sovereign and in control. Thank God He really does exist and is a re warder of those who diligently seek him. Irene and I pulled into Pomona and traveled over towards John G.'s house. We pulled up to a traffic light next to a car at the intersection of Grand and White Avenue. Sitting in the car next to us is John O. from Alta Deena Dairy and PCBBC. John recognized us and asked us what we were doing? We told him we were moving back to LA. He asked where we were going to live. I said I don't know, I was hoping John G. would put us up for a couple of days. Here is where I have to stop, dry my eyes and praise our God one more time, wait a minute will you? OK, I am fine, John O. said that he was now the manager of the apartments on Fernleaf and that he had an empty unit and we could follow him home and unload our car and trailer that day in our own little house. So for the second time we lived on Fernleaf Avenue in Pomona.

We unloaded the car and the trailer. We returned the trailer to a UHaul location. We were able to see once again John and Debbie O., John and Sue G., John and Judy G ., and Bobby and Terry S. What a wonderful reunion. The next day I went back to Alta Deena Dairy to see if I could be rehired. Praise be unto God I could. Within a day I had a place to put my family and a job. God is so good.

I spent quite some time at Alta Deena Dairy. I was wondering what God was doing with us and what was up. How could I be so wrong. I was so sure God wanted us in Herlong, at least at the Sierra View Baptist Church. That awareness never left me, it nagged me and dogged me everyday. What was I to do?

Discover what I did in the next issue entitled: "Herlong-The Sequel."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eight Ways to Show Your Love For Your Pastor

1.  Pray daily for your pastor and his family

2.  Buy him a good book, video, or CD

3.  Don't tell him you enjoyed the sermon, tell him the changes you will make because of the sermon

4.  Offer your condo, motor home, boat, cabin, or vacation spot for his use

5.  Phone, email, fax, text, tweet, or write him a note of appreciation and thankfulness

6.  Give him a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant

7.  Treat his wife to a lunch, dinner, spa, beauty treatment, or anything special for her

8.  Treat him to a conference, seminar, or such at least twice a year (all expenses)

Bonus suggestion to ultimately show your love to your pastor

9.  Introduce him to the Gospel-driven Disciples Blog

In the last 30 days how have you shown your 
personal appreciation for your pastor?
What does your pastor need the most right now?
Pick on thing from this list to do for him in March and do it

Friday - "Friday's Features" 

Join the Gospel-driven disciples for a "pot-pouri" of topics from jokes, humor, videos, stories, summaries, and a collection of anything.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Real Secret of Sucess!

"I used to ask God to help me.
 Then I asked if I might help Him.

I ended up by asking Him to do 
His work through me."

(Hudson Taylor)

What is your secret of success?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eat and Drink My Precious...

You have heard the expression, "With friends like that, who needs enemies? We use this expression when someone who is supposedly a friend behaves or treats us badly. More often than not, we will encounter someone who will pretend to be our friend, who all the while is plotting and scheming to use us for their advantage. Within the collection of the words of the wise (Proverbs 22:17-24:22) we have this warning:

"Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy, do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. 'Eat and drink!' he says to you, but his heart is not with you." (Proverbs 23:6, ESV)

The NKJV uses the word miser in place of stingy and the NASB reads miser. The literal reading in the Hebrew is "an evil eye." The KJV reads, "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye." (Bold mine)

First, we need to establish the fact that this "evil eye" is not related to "enchantment" or the superstition of black magic. This is a phrase that can be contrasted with a word in Proverbs 22:9, "a bountiful eye." The good eye refers to a man who is giving or bountiful. The ESV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, and even the NLT are correct when they translate this word to "stingy" or "miser." So, what does this mean?

There are those individuals who pretend to be our friends. They welcome us with loud and hearty invitations to come and be their friend and to eat with them. However, they are not sincere in their words or their invitation. They actually begrudge each bite that you take of their food. Why? First, they are greedy. They do not like to share anything with anyone including their food. Second, they are not sincere in their offer of friendship. They only want to use an unsuspecting person for their own greedy means.

Viewing the movie Social Network started me thinking about what was the motive behind all of the "friend requests" that one gets on our Face book page? Why do these people want to be friends with me? Of course those whom are related to us and those whom we have been friends with for quite some time usually give us no cause to worry.

The second thing that made me think of this warning is the seemingly innoculous button entitled "followers." So many people want us to follow their blogs. So they pretend to like ours and say nice things about our blog but always the motive is, "the invitation to follow their blog." Usually these requests are harmless.

In real life we need to develop discernment and utilize care of those whom we take into our bosoms as friends. When we recognize someone to be this miserly or stingy that they despise sharing small things such as a meal, the wise tell us to not with eat them. Let him keep those things to himself.

The most important reason that we need to reject these foods, regardless of how delicate or "sweet" they may be, is we do not want to find ourselves in a position of "debt" to such an individual. We find a second and supportive reason for rejecting such invitations in verse eight, "you will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words." Once you have recognized that you have been fooled by this man's invitation, and you have been used by him or placed into a compromising debt, you will probably experience such revulsion and shame that you may even vomit. Not to mention all of your sincere and well meaning conversation was useless.

Have you come across someone who is so stingy or misery that he hates to share even his food?

Do you have an experience of such a situation that you might want to share for instructional purposes?

How do you recognize a man with a greedy, stingy, or miserly eye?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Am Curious...

The other day I happened to read comments by someone who had shared some love about their church body. It was obvious that they truly loved their fellowship. I am in the process of refining a mission statement for the church I desire to plant. These two things got me to thinking - which can be dangerous! It led me to be curious about your home church.

So, today I would like to ask four questions:

  • What is the name of your church?
  • How long have you been there?
  • What is the mission statement of your church? 
  • What attribute or quality does your church exhibit most?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Excuse the Dust...Some House Keeping Duties

Due to the declining comments on some of the scheduled topics,
 I have decided to drop or change:

 The Metcalf's walk of faith (From ten comments to one)

The Sunday Study

The Weekly Tuesday Devotion (From 10-11 comments to one)

Hopefully, some improvements and/or better posts will bring the comments back up to where they were. I view the comments, not as compliments, but as testimonies of how an individual post blessed you or ministered to you.

What changes or improvements would you like to see in the Gospel-driven disciples? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Man's Greatest Need

Due to changes in certain circumstances
the Sunday Study will be under-going
certain remodeling and changes.

Please continue to enjoy the other posts and pages
of this blog. Gospel-driven Disciples will remain
open during this time of remodeling!

Please enjoy this selection from the Valley of Vision
this is one of my favorite prayers in this collection!


There is one thing that deserves my greatest care, that calls forth my ardent desires, that is, that I may answer the great end for which I am made ­–

to glorify thee who hast given me being,
and to do all the good I can for my fellow men;

Verily life is not worth living if it be not improved for this noble purpose. Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind! Most men seem to live for themselves,

without much or any regard for thy glory,
or for the good of others;

They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue the riches, honours, pleasures of this life,

as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment,
could make their immortal souls happy;

But, alas, what false delusive dreams are these! And how miserable ere long will those be that sleep with them,

for all our happiness consists in loving thee,
and being holy as thou art holy.

O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities, the sensuality and folly of the present world!

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness; time is a moment, a vapour,

and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles, fleeting blasts of wind,
from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;

Give me grace always to keep in covenant with thee, and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter, together with all sinful pleasures or profits. Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Herlong, California (Part I)

The decision had been made, I was ending my schooling at PCBBC. The question that was on my mind and heart was, "what do I do now?" Naturally my wife wanted an answer to that question also, and in keeping with her family's heritage, she wanted it "muy pronto!"

You see when we headed for bible college and the preparation for the ministry we had two darling little girls, Shannon Annette, and Sonja Aurora. As my college career was winding down our family was "winding up." We had two little girls while I was at the school. I know, I know, I heard it all - how do you have time for "that" when you are in school 4 hours a day, working 8-10 hours a day, driving almost 2 hours a day and doing homework. Well, you just need to know we did.

Before we jump on I-5 and head for Herlong let me share with you how God payed for "that." It was obvious that being a Security Guard at California Plant Protection wasn't going to make us rich. My best friend John (not John G who had given us the Olds) got a job as a truck driver at Alta-Dena Dairy in the City of Industry. John regaled us with stories of how great a place it was to work, the "benefits" and more to my liking, the pay. I put in an application and discovered other friends, Bobby S. of Texas and John O. also of Texas worked there. These guys all lived in the same apartment complex as I did and were second year students with me at PCBBC. John and Bobby helped get me on and I became an "ice-cream puller" and dock loader for the family owned Dairy.

The job was a tough one. We worked in the ice-cream freezer where it was 50 degrees below zero. The law said we were to work 45 minutes inside and then 15 minutes outside warming up, but the brass must have never gotten that memo. It was fun -it was physically hard work that kept us in shape and awake during our shifts that is for sure. You could eat all the ice cream you wanted on the dock. Anything off the dock was considered "stealing." The first couple of hours we pulled ice cream half-gallon containers that came through the shrink wrap machine which we loaded on to pallets. One hundred and eighty six gallons of ice cream fits on a standard pallet. I still remember that some thirty years later. Those pallets were either fork lifted into place on storage racks or loaded on to trucks for shipment around the country. That is why the freezer was so cold, we had to immediately freeze the ice cream in order to ship it out immediately.

The 14 brothers and 1 sister, no I didn't make a typo, who owned and operated the dairy did not want the union to come in and take over. So, they devised a plan that would be the envy of any man, oops, sorry Johnny Cash for stealing your line (One Piece At A Time.) They just provided benefits better than the union could. We made a dollar or two more an hour than other unionized shops, had a day or two more vacation, and our health plan was out of this world. This kept the workers happy and no one wanted to organize and vote in a union. I didn't either, even though I was the son of a teamster. The plan worked for me.

You see, when you had a medical, dental, or optical issue, you went to the appropriate doctor, brought back your receipt of payment, you were then  immediately cut a reimbursement check by payroll for the full amount, minus NO FEES OR CHARGES. Yes, it was difficult sometimes making payment in order to be reimbursed. I confess to you, and have confessed to our Lord, of writing "bad" checks to medical providers and then driving like a maniac back to the Dairy with receipt in hand in order to be reimbursed in order to make a second mad dash to the bank to make a deposit.

Let me interrupt for a moment if I can and tell you how little Sarah had come to be growing inside Irene. Shannon was now 5 and Sonja was 4 and Irene was well, thinking these two were enough. I wanted a son. So one day I convinced Irene to attend a family meeting about said desire. The meeting consisted of yours truly, Irene, Shannon and Sonja. We put the agenda on the table: I wanted a son and the girls wanted a baby brother to torture. After, numerous objections from the VP (Irene), it was finally put to a vote. Irene lost 3 to 1. We were going to have a baby!

The morning Irene woke me up and told me that little Sean Austin or Sarah Amber was on the way, was no concern to me how we would pay the doctor or the hospital. We drove a couple of miles to the Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina, California and checked in.

That little gal was in a hurry and has been in a hurry ever since. From the time Irene poked me in the ribs and said "its time" to when we were starring at a wet, bloody pink little girl was 45 minutes. I know some of you ladies are envious, but that is what it was.

I did a double take I guess. I had to look at the one end a couple of times, you see that was suppose to be my boy. The sonogram showed the, well you know, she carried it high or whatever it was, she wasn't as sick, and whatever silly old-wives tales convinced me it was a boy. But, it wasn't to be, the nurses were cleaning up our third little girl, little Sarah Amber.

But, Sarah it was not to be. All through the pregnancy and right up to Irene being admitted, if we had a girl her name would be Sarah. When the nurse brought out our little girl all wrapped up and handed her to Irene, Irene looked at her and said she doesn't look like a Sarah. She looks like a Sharon.Sharon? Sharon had never been on the list. Oh well, Wala! Debut Sharon Amber Metcalf.

Well, my job that day was to cuddle and kiss both Irene and Sharon, run to billing, pay the bill, and run back to the dairy. Without blinking an eye, asking a question, or lecturing me on better use of my "free-time", the payroll clerk cut a check for the entire amount of the bill. This is where we all stop and praise our glorious God!

There it was my final shot at a son. Now it would be up to my brother to carry on the Metcalf name. You ladies know how it is in that "room" and how it goes. "How could you do this to me?" "You will never touch me again." Et cetera, Et cetera, Et cetera...

Fortunately at least for me, we resumed the type of protection that would "ensure" we would not have any more little ones. We thought we were covered. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men don't you? Almost to the day, one year later we were taking that same trip to the Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina. Sharon had been born March 18, 1981 and here was Stacy Alaine making her debut on March 17, 1982. Yes, I can count, that is only 364 days apart. I didn't even have a leap year on my side.

It was the same drill. If it was a boy, he would be named Sean Austin, if it was a girl, she would be named Stacy Alaine. I don't know what it is about that name but Sean never materialized. We love and are proud of Shannon, Sonja, Sharon, and Stacy. I paid the bill, ran to the dairy with the receipt, got my reimbursement check - again with no questions, comments, or lectures, and ran to the bank to make a deposit.

Once again God supplied our needs by His marvelous grace. The dairy never quibbled or squabbled about medical issues. Later on they did change their policies for self-preservation. One of the foremen had a baby that unfortunately had tremendous complications and it wasn't long, even in the 1980's to run up a million dollar bill. The dairy paid it but then set a limit on medical costs.

Well, I have digressed haven't I? We were leaving PCBBC. But what next? The burden to shepherd God's people had not left me. The desire to teach his word still burned in my heart. The ministry was still my calling. What do I do?

Sometime I have to tell you about John G. No, this isn't the same John G. that gave us the Oldsmobile the day after the Chevy Vega blew up on Kellogg Hill coming home from work one night. This is a different John G- a man who became my best friend and whom I love to this day.

John G had a cousin, Don E. who planted the Sierra View Baptist Church of Grass Valley, CA. Eventually in time, three of Don's families moved to Herlong, CA to work at the Sierra Army Depot. These three families soon discovered that there was slim pickings in churches to attend in Herlong. The nearest town was either 50 miles north (Susanville, CA) or 60 miles south (Reno, NV.)

They begged Don to come up and help them start a church. Don was a pilot and had a small Cessna. He would conduct his services on Sunday morning, fly up to a little landing strip in the desert, conduct their services and then fly back to conduct his evening services. As you could imagine, after awhile it took its toll and became tiresome. In late 1982 Don E asked his cousin John G if he would go up to Herlong and take over the little church that had begun. John thought it over and decided not to go up there. He told Don E that he had a friend who might be interested and to talk to me.

Don E. called me and after a long talk I decided that Irene and I would take a look at this little church and see what we could do to help it get on its feet and reach maturity. We decided to explore the possibility that was there in Herlong.

Next week, in Part II, I will describe the trip, the decision, and the next step in our walk of faith as God pointed us towards Herlong, California.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ten Things You Don't Hear In Church

1.  Oh my, that fifty-five minute exegetical and expositional sermon was to short. Can you preach another one?

2.  I don't think that offering plate was filled to its capacity, let me put some more in it please.

3.  Hey, please get out of the way, it is my turn to sit on the front row

4.  Wow, you are right! This small group is better than TVs Wednesday night programming

5.  Pastor, rather than buy that 60" plasma, HD TV we were saving for, use this for missions

6.  No, I have so much spare time, please let me do those 5 unfinished jobs you have

7.  Change? Variety is the spice of life, we love to try new things around here

8.  Pastor please, I don't need to pray about it, I would love to...

9.  I went right out the very next day and bought that book you recommended we all read

10. Pastor you look like you are working to hard, take an extra week of vacation this summer

What have you NOT heard in the past 30 days at your church?
What would you LIKE to hear?
What do you think Jesus would like to hear in His church?

Friday - "Friday's Features" 

Join the Gospel-driven disciples for a "pot-pouri" of topics from jokes, humor, videos, stories, summaries, and a collection of anything.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ordo Salutis

Theological Thursday: Ordo Salutis

Ordo Salutis: is Latin for the "order of salvation." This deals with the logical sequence or steps that is involved in the slavation of a sinner. There has been severe disagreement in regards to the order and especially about the cause of salvation. When discussed the ordo salutis  naturally involves specific terms and definitions. The following components are part of the process we know as salvation. These folllowing items are listed for your edification and further study, they may or may not be in actual sequential order.

Foreknowledge: "To know before"
Predestination:  "To determine beforehand; having reference to that which subjects are determined"
Election:  God's choosing of all whom He would save or apply salvation to
Regeneration:  God's renewing of one's spiritual life by the means of the Holy Spirit
Evangelism:  The communication of the Gospel to the sinner
Faith:  Belief and trust in the message of the gospel
Conversion:  One's turning from sin and turning to God as a result of the application of the work of Christ
Perseverance: One's continued state of salvation by true belief and God's perserving power
Repentance:  Turning from sin to God
Justification:  A legal term whereby God declares a believer to be just
Sanctification:  God's work through the Holy Spirit of separating one from the lure of sin
Glorification:  God's final removal of all sin from the life and presence of one in the eternal state

The debate over ordo saltuis" is a hot and long lasting debate within the church and even outside of the church. The order is important and a proper understanding of the terms is crucial. The outcome determines who gets the glory and who can boast when it comes to salvation. The most evident friction comes between those who hold to biblical order and definitions verses those who hold to an Arminian system of order and definitions. There are definite differences in the two camps.

There are at least three things to note however about the ordo salutis.

First, the "process" of salvation although containing many parts is an instantaneous act. All of these parts or components are important and must be present, they are worked together by God through His Spirit in such a way that when applied to a sinner salvation it is immediate.

Second, these steps and sequences are not necessary "chronological" steps. These steps can be seen as distinctions within a single process that in one way or another is effected by and dependent upon the work of God in the life of a sinner.

Third, one must realize that these steps or components are much more than just simple labels. The ordo salutis has as much to do with salvation as it has to do with the cause of salvation. For example, one position states that faith is the effect of election. The other position states that faith is the cause of election. One must truly understand the state of the sinner prior to salvation in order to come to a biblical ordo salutis.

Happy Birthday to my second oldest daugher Sonja Aurora Abramson of Milwaukee, OR! I love you Sonja!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mercy Drops Round Us Are Falling...

Sometimes a Disciple 
Just Needs 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6 ESV)

God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us - as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.
--John Calvin 

Mercy should make us ashamed, wrath afraid to sin.
--William Gurnall 

I would say to my soul, O my soul, this is not the place of despair; this is not the time to despair in. As long as mine eyes can find a promise in the Bible, as long as there is a moment left me of breath or life in this world, so long will I wait or look for mercy, so long will I fight against unbelief and despair."
--John Bunyan (1628 - 1688

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life."
--King David

We implore the mercy of God, not that He may leave us at peace in our vices, but that He may deliver us from them.
--Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Goal: Praise for the Glory of God's Grace

Text: εις επαινον δοξης της χαριτος αυτου εν η εχαριτωσεν ημας εν τω ηγαπημενω

Translation:  " the praise of the glory of his grace with which grace he has bestowed on us in the beloved one..."

Truth:  First, this verse ends what we believe to be the first stanza of praise that revolves around the first person of the Trinity, which is God-The Father. In verses three through five Paul related the activity and the cause of the Father's election of some to salvation. Second, Paul will now reveal God's goal in electing some to be the recipient of his great salvation - the goal is the praise of the glory of God's great grace.

εις επαινον δοξης της χαριτος αυτου - "to the praise of the glory of his grace..."

The preposition εις is used by Paul three times in verses five and six. The first time Paul uses this preposition is to show the idea of direction or appointment. The use of this preposition in this manner shows us that God predestined us "to" adoption." The preposition shows the appointment of predestination resulted in the adoption of believers. The second use of the preposition εις is used by Paul to show "relationship." This use directs our attention back to God. The predestination and the adoption originates with God and this is why he is to be praised. The third use of this preposition, εις, by Paul is to the goal or the end of adoption by God. Everything that the Father does has the goal of ending in praise to God. God does not do one thing without the utmost intention of being the revelation of his nature resulting in him being praised.

This truth is so hard for egotistical, ego-centric, and fallen man to comprehend. The goal of God's actions to redeem you was not for your benefit but it was so that he would be praised. No doubt we who are the recipients of God's grace reap untold benefits. The actions of the Father have as their goal the praise of God.

What is "praise?"

From very early on in Greek literature the word for praise has carried the idea of "praise, approval, applause."  This word is used in the LXX ten times. This word translates three Hebrew words. Three of those five times that the word is used translate a word that is used many times in the Old Testament which means "praise" or "glory." Now in the New Testament this word is used eleven times (nine times by the Apostle Paul.) This term refers to the praise of God by believers.

δοξης  - "glory"

This word is a very elusive word. It has changed in how it was used. Today it seems that many believers are unclear concerning this word and have some form of a "mystical" or "esoteric" idea about its meaning.

In Greek it had the idea of "my opinion" or "reputation" (referring to the opinion of others.) This word is actually used in the LXX some 450 times and used in our Old Testament some 276 times and is actually translated from some twenty five different words. One hundred and eighty times it is translated from one main Hebrew word. 

The idea of this Hebrew Word comes from the idea of something that is "weighty" or "heavy" in a person giving the idea of significance or importance. This "weightiness" in turn makes a major impact on others. This word is used in relation to God's great name. δοξης carries the idea of the reflection of the essence of God's being, the summation of all his attributes. His essence makes an impact on others. God's reputation due to his character or attributes is the essence of his being. Therefore a believer is to praise God for the attributes or the essence of God's character that is revealed in his predetermining to adopt some as sons by redemption.

εν η εχαριτωσεν ημας - "with which grace he has bestowed on us."

The believer is visited by God with grace. As a matter of fact, the believer has been ingratiated with grace. The context speaks of God's gracious provision. In our preceding verse we have seen that God visited the sinner with grace by electing and predestining the sinner to become a child of God. God bestowed grace on sinners. This is the same grace, the same idea or concept that we find in Luke 1 where God bestowed favor or grace in choosing Mary as the mother of Jesus. 

Just meditate on that for a moment. Only for a moment though, if you spend to long in meditation you will swell up with absolute awe, amazement, bewilderment, and then melt in uncontrollable tears of thanksgiving and amazement. God, who created this world visited me, a condemned sinner, bestowing upon me unspeakable, indescribable, and unmerited favor or grace. When we think on the grace God visited Mary with in order to carry and deliver Jesus His unique Son we marvel and almost idolize her. But listen, dear Saint, she has nothing on you - she received no more grace than you did when God visited you, a condemned sinner and predestined you to become His Son by adoption!

Listen, if you study that passage in Luke intently you will find that when Mary becomes agitated or troubled for this selection Gabriel tells her not to fear God's grace in choosing her. The context emphasizes God's choice rather than Mary's worth. You are acceptable to God not because of any merit within you but because God chose to bestow or visit you with grace!

εν τω ηγαπημενω - " the beloved one"

What we see here is that the grace that God bestowed or visited upon us in Christ Jesus. Since believers are in Christ, they too are the object of God's love.

So, we finish the section which deals with God's Election For Himself in verses 4-6. We saw the Activity of God: Election prior to Creation (4); the Appointment of God: Predestination to Sonship (5); the Aim of God: Praise of the Glory of His Grace (6.)

Next Tuesday, Lord willing, we will look at the second stanza in the discussion of the Trinity's involvement of our salvation when we look at God's Redemption In Christ in verses 7-12.


Tuesday: "Priceless Pearls" - Stories of Christian Truths

-Weekly Devotions for Disciples

Follow along on Tuesdays as we offer filling and fruitful devotional commentary on various Scriptures.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Trust Between The Father and The Son

Hence also to be informed, that God the Father, and God the Son, do mutually rely and trust to one another in the business of our redemption. The Father relies upon the Son for the performance of his part; as it is, Isa. 42: 1, ” Behold my servant, whom I uphold.” And, to speak plain, the Father so far trusted Christ, that upon the credit of his promise to come into the world, and in the fulness of time to become a sacrifice for the elect, he saved all the Old Testament saints, whose faith also respected a Christ to come; with reference whereto, it is said, Heb. 11: 39, 40. “That they received not the promises, God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” i. e. without Jesus Christ manifested in the flesh, in our times, though believed on, as to come in the flesh, in their times.
And as the Father trusted Christ, so does Christ, in like manner, depend upon, and trust his Father. For, having performed his part, and left the world again, he now trusteth his Father for the accomplishment of that promise made him, Isa. 53: 10. “That he shall see his seed,” &c. He depends upon his Father for all the elect that are left behind, yet unregenerated, as well as those already called, that they shall be all preserved unto the heavenly kingdom, according to that, John 17: 11. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world; and I come unto thee: holy Father, keep, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me.” And can it be imagined, that the Father will fail in his trust, who every way acquitted himself so punctually to the Son? It cannot be.”
~ John Flavel
Monday: "The Monday Mentor" - Summaries of Christian Topics

Come along with us on Mondays and be "mentored" as we examine various points of interest from book reviews to pertinent events in church history. We hope to challenge, stimulate, and encourage you as we share various facts about people, places, positions, and performances of interests.