Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Second Annual A-Z Challenge!

In the March 27, 2010 post, Lee over at Tossing it Out,  issued a "double dog dare you" challenge:

"In April I've decided to do a Blogging from A to Z theme and I'm inviting any of you who think you have what it takes to join me. In other words, I challenge you to join me--I double dog dare you! The challenge would entail that each day participating bloggers post at least 100 words based on the letter of that day, starting with "A" on April 1 and ending with "Z" on April 30. Does that sound too difficult for you?"

That challenge or double dog dare was the catalyst that catapulted myself and several others to accept and participate in that A-Z Challenge. Needless to say it was a mountain of fun and a huge success! It turned out to be a little easier than I first thought and I met a whole bunch of bloggers whom many became both my friend and follower of my blog.

In early February, Lee from Tossing It Out invited all those who participated to step back up to the plate as he challenged us to be a part of The Second Annual A-Z Challenge in April of 2011. But wait, there is more! He also has challenged us to help him and several other "team leaders" to recruit 500 or more participants in this years A-Z challenge. We have reached that number and more! Can you believe it? Some 700 or more bloggers will take the challenge and blog 26 letters of the alphabet in 26 days in April. Now he is pushing for 800 + Are you up to it? How about joining in? It is easier than you think.

So, beginning Friday, April 1st, I am going to begin this second annual double dog dare challenge with a post that begins or is related to the letter “A.” I hope to remain informative, inspiring, and encouraging to my readers and followers during this month. 

Please share the Gospel Driven Disciples with those whom you know and maybe they can join in this great experiment. You can also find a fan page on Face book now for the Gospel-driven Disciples, stop by there and click on becoming a fan. I hope that you will drop byTossing it Out and see how he is doing with his blogging from A to Z theme!

Let the games begin, again!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have You Thought of Grace?

Have You Thought of Grace?
by Gregg Metcalf

As the day began and you made your way,
did you stop and think how you'd convey
all the thankfulness that's in your breast
what words to Him, will you confess?

Have you thought of His matchless grace?
Fresh supplies are always there on hand;
and did you look to His smiling face
in order to receive His grace so grand?

In the midst of your great and busy time
to what supply did you sneak a look?
Did you think on Him to dine?
 did you feast on His dear book?

I wonder about you my dear friend
as you travel along your weary road
is their cause to worry about the end
 is there care of how to carry this  load?

When your path is crooked and oh so bent
and you feel you might be out of place
 what balm heals a soul so heavily spent?
I wonder, have you thought of grace?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).
Dudley A. TyngRev. Dudley A. Tyng was a dedicated young minister of the gospel who served our Lord in the mid 1800's. He had a well-respected ministry among fellow pastors of various denominational backgrounds who detected his earnest walk with Christ. He was instrumental in a revival that swept Philadelphia and the northeast in 1857.

Every generation deals with the mysteries of God's providence; that is, why God allows certain things to happen.  On Tuesday, April 13th, 1858, Rev. Tyng went from the study of his country home to the barn floor where a mule was at work treading a machine for shelling corn.  As he patted the animal on the neck a loose sleeve became caught in the cogs of the wheel, wrenching and lacerating his arm, from the neck down, in a dreadful manner.  Amputation, performed on the Saturday following, did no more than postpone the end.

It being perceived that he was dying, he was asked if he had any messages to send, among others, to the band of clergymen so devoted to him and the work.  When able to rouse himself sufficiently, he responded with a short message, beginning with the words: "Tell them, 'Let us all stand up for Jesus.'"    Rev. Tyng died on Monday, April 19th, 1858.
George Duffield

As result of this challenge a fellow laborer in Christ, George Duffield, wrote the beloved hymn, "Stand up, Stand up for Jesus" which many of us continue to sing in our churches to this day.

"Stand Up for Jesus" by T.H. Stockton ©1858 available free to download (pdf

Monday, March 28, 2011

How Well Will You Die?

Death is a very difficult subject to think about or talk about. Death is often talked about in hushed and somber tones. There are a number of superstitious beliefs that are expressed when the "taboo" is broached. My favorite quip concerning death is, "If I knew where I was going to die, I would never go near the spot!"
I was reminded once again how frightened some people are of the thought of dieing when I read a newspaper report related to the death of Elizabeth Taylor. I was surprised to read the following:
"LOS ANGELES (AP) — Zsa Zsa Gabor’s publicist says the shock of Elizabeth Taylor’s death made Gabor fear she was next and sent her to the hospital with high blood pressure.
John Blanchette says the 94-year-old celebrity was watching the news Wednesday morning at her Los Angeles home when she learned her friend and one-time neighbor had died.
 Blanchette says Gabor was inconsolable and commented: “Oh, Jane Russell and Liz Taylor — I’m next.” That’s a reference to the common myth that celebrity deaths come in threes."
 I was not surprised about Gabor's fear of death. Many people truly fear death. I think they fear death, first of all for good reason, and secondly, because it is natural to fear death. Death remains that great unknown and it is so very permanent. The person who has not been made alive by God through the Holy Spirit does not possess that comfort and assurance spoken of by Paul in II Corinthians 5:8, " be absent from the body...present with the Lord." The moment a believer's soul exits the body the believer is in heaven and in the presence of God. That gives absolute comfort, joy, and assurance to those who are in Christ. It also enables a believer to die well.
I was reading the Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards yesterday and the account of the death of his sister caused me to think on this subject. The account of her death caused me to exclaim, "She died well!" It also prompted this post.
In September of 1728 Jonathan Edwards traveled to Northampton, MA to visit his sister, Jerusha. After the visit she developed a fever and on December 22, 1728 she died.Here is the account of Jerusha's death.
"During her sickness she was not forsaken. A day or two before its termination, she manifested a remarkable admiration of the grace and mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, to sinners, and particularly to herself: saying, "It is wonderful, it surprises me." A part of the time she was in some degree delirious: but, when her her mind wandered, it seemed to wander heavenward. Just before her death, she attempted to sing a hymn, '"The Absence of Christ," and died in the full possession of her rational powers, expressing her hope of eternal salvation through his blood." 
Based on the account in the Memoirs, Jerusha Edwards died well. She died confident, comforted, and courageous. She died trusting the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. How different that is from some of the following individuals who died.
Codeine . . . bourbon.
~~ Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968
All is lost. Monks, monks, monks!
~~ Henry VIII, King of England, d. 1547

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
~~ Thomas Hobbes, writer, d. 1679

I see black light.
~~ Victor Hugo, writer, d. May 22, 1885

"Oh God, here I go..." Max Baer, boxer (1909-1959)

I want to die well. If conscious I would like to go singing a hymn, quoting scripture, or even praying thankfully for God's grace. I have not thought about my last words yet, but I do have written what I would like engraved on my Tombstone:

A husband, a father, a friend for a time
but now he has come to the end of the line
our gracious God was merely a lender
therefore, please return him to sender

What are some of your favorite superstitions about death?

What would you consider dieing "well?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meet Pastor Ted Duncan

Sundays in the Study is still being remodeled. The General Contractor is extremely
 sorry for the delays in construction. Hopefully the study will re-open soon. 
In the mean time please enjoy this informative and inspirational piece.

Pastor Duncan was the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church (formerly United Baptist Church) of San Jose, CA. It was under his preaching that the desire to preach and prepare for the ministry was re-kindled in my heart. 

Ted is a great teacher! He is very knowledgeable and also very funny. I can still hear him in my mind's ear cracking a joke and chuckling in that way that only he could and yet getting a very deep point across in a lesson. He set me up with a man who discipled me and worked with me. 

Periodically I would like to introduce you to men who have made a major impact on my life. I love them deeply and desire to honor them if I can. This is a short bio, but hope you are blessed.

Ted Duncan joined the pastoral staff of Calvary Bible Church of Bakersfield, CA in the fall of 1990. He was chosen to be the Senior Pastor when Pastor Jack Peacock retired in 1992. He came to Calvary Bible from San Jose where he had pastored for nearly eighteen years. (Liberty Baptist Church of San Jose, CA)

Both Pastor Ted and his wife Marge were born and raised in southwest Colorado, where they came to Christ as teenagers and dedicated their lives to His service. They were married while still in Bible College and began their family while finishing their education. God has blessed Ted and Marge with five adult children who are married and raising families of their own.

Ted graduated from Biola University in 1966 and from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1970. He was ordained that same year and has been in full time ministry ever since. He served as youth pastor for a short time in the Los Angeles area and then pastored a small country church in Colorado before going to San Jose in 1973. Pastor Ted has recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing, having completed three apocalyptic novels. 

Not much to read about a man is it? Well, one thing that will be said about Pastor Duncan is he is faithful. He has run a good race for quite some time and by God's grace he will complete his race, having run well. I love him and respect him a great deal. He has made an impact on my life. My desire to finish my race well, and in the same faithful manner as Pastor Ted Duncan.

Enjoy this sermon from Pastor Duncan dated 12/12/20 entitled "The U of Christmans" I

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vacation Destinations

At our annual Christmas party in December 2005, my boss gave Irene and myself an all expenses paid vacation. As a Christmas bonus she awarded us with a seven (7) day Caribbean cruise to San Juan, Puerto, Rico; St Martins Island, and St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands. Needless to say I was flabbergasted and unbelievably excited. A Caribbean cruise was something I had never considered possible up until then and have never been in a position to repeat sense. My boss was very generous and very thoughtful to those who worked very hard and who were very loyal to her.

We flew out of Portland, OR and landed in Miami, FL. We spent the night in Miami at the Miami Hilton Hotel. The accommodations were first class! After checking in we sat poolside simply relaxing and basking in the warm Florida sunshine. As Washingtonians we sat there soaking up the sun like Florida oranges. We sat up late talking, relaxing, and trying to take in the fact that here we were at a Hilton Hotel a night away from boarding a Carnival Cruise Ship that would sail for seven days to and fro to three (3) Caribbean ports. ( Poolside- Miami Hilton. Irene is in the red blouse - I am taking the picture)

The next morning we boarded buses and we were transported to the customs building. After transversing long lines and seemingly never ending time, we made it through the check in stations and boarded our ship. We were led to our cabin. My ever thoughtful boss didn't just book any cabin for us, she booked a cabin that not only was on the side of the ship but had a deck. Irene and I could open our sliding door and walk out on a little deck and watch the ocean while imbibing that wonderful sea air.

Well, we did it all. We hit the free and fabulous buffets, walked the decks of the ship, laid out on the top deck in the sun and sea-breeze. We took in the shows at night. Irene even tried her hand at the one-armed bandits. We were able to meet the Captain, the Cruise Director, and several other shipmates.

The dining was beyond description. Only those of you who have taken cruises understand. The evening meals were something out of a Camelot-like fairy tale. We were shown to our table which happened to be at the stern of the ship. This area had large glass windows. So we had a beautiful view as the sun went down. After sunset it was even more spectacular. Usually there was even moonlight to see the water in the darkness. We could also see the wake of the ship as it made its way through the water. But wait there is more, as Sully would say, the ship disturbed the plankton or phosphorus something or other and the water would glow in the dark. What can I say about the food? Scrumptious? What does that mean? How does it describe the food in a way that does it justice? Needless to say, it was "heavenly."

Well, we made it to San Juan, Puerto, Rico at about 8:00 PM. We were only in San Juan until midnight when we set sail again. It was a little disappointing, but we did all that we could in the time we had. St Martin and St Thomas were also beautiful ports. We took tours, saw the islands, and acted like typical tourists. We took as many pictures as we could and had as much fun as we could. We always made it back to the ship amazed, tired, and hungry. (Right - downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico after it got dark)

There is nothing like being in your cabin after a full day. The faint hum and vibration of the ships movement is like a symphony deep in the recesses of your hearing. Moon light shining through the open drapes gives a glorious glow off the deep dark water. Soft music piped through the cabins set a very romantic mood. The evenings were as rewarding as the days.

But, someone once said, "All things must come to an end." So sad but so true. After docking at our destination ports the ship turned around and headed back to Miami, Florida. After an incident where someone didn't believe the authorities about smuggling drugs aboard ship we were finally let off of the ship. We were bussed to Ft. Lauderdale airport where we caught our flight back to Portland, OR.

After a day of rest it was back to the salt mines. Now this dream cruise is only a distant memory. It is a memory so pleasant that I like to take it out of the library of my mind and relive it. I can still feel the Florida sun, the soft sheets of the Hilton, the gentle gliding of the ship through the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. I can taste the exotic foods, listen to the passengers joyous white noise of conversation, and recall the interaction with the island natives. Sometimes it is sad and so hard to put this memory back into the mental library. I do not foresee a repeat cruise in my future therefore I am afraid that this memory will be lost in that vast library of my mind, or will fade in time. But until then, "All aboard!"

View from the top of St Martin Island

Our ship docked at St Martin Island

Side-walk musicians

From above on a tour of St Thomas Island

Irene shopping in a shop in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Irene and myself on St Thomas Island

A view of San Juan as we sailed into port in order to dock

On board our ship

San Juan, Puerto Rico

500 year old Fort San Cristobal protecting harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Our ship the Carnival Triumph!

Have you ever taken a cruise?

What was your favorite vacation?

If money, time, health, and kids were no problem, 
what would you consider to be the ultimate vacation?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Five Facts About Heaven

I grew up listening to country music. One of my favorite female icons is Miss Loretta Lynn. She has been dubbed "The First Lady of Country Music" and for good reason. Of her many, many songs recorded over the years is one that includes this line, "everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." 

Kenny Chesney recorded a song that included this hook line, "everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now." Cute song, but sadly too true. Ask anybody around you if they would like to go to heaven, I dare say the answer is almost always, yes! Ask them, OK, how about right now?" Watch all of them sputter like an arc light. There is just something about that word "now" that puts a whole different spin on it, doesn't it?

Many people wonder what heaven is like? Many people wonder what will we do when we get to heaven? Of course, TBN and the Holy Hardware Stores have a ready supply of people with "testimonies" who have been to heaven, been given grand tours, and opportunities of playing around in a river with Jesus himself. They will gladly tell you all about it for a love offering of 29.99 or more.

Sadly, most believers do not have a biblical view and understanding of heaven. Unfortunately a large portion of that fault lies with the Elders and teachers in the church. Sermons and series on heaven should be included in the preaching plan of every body of Elders in order to help prepare people for heaven.

Having made the statement, I don't have the time or the space today to do a series on heaven. I may work on that as a project for "Sundays in the Study." Today, I would simply like to share five (5) thoughts or facts from God's Word about this wonderful place called heaven.

Heaven is the dwelling place of God. God dwells in a place the bible calls the third heaven. The bible calls this place the heaven of heavens. The apostle Paul was "caught up" and transported to the third heaven and given a small glimpse of heaven's glory. (II Corinthians 12:2) The apostle John was also transported into heaven where he saw many wonderful things. (Rev 4:2) Heaven is where God dwells. Heaven is a specific place. (Matthew 6:9; John 14:2-3). Study these scriptures and ask God to illuminate your spiritual understanding about this real place where God dwells. We will one day live where God lives and with God!

Heaven is a place of unmatched peace and beauty. We have a brief sneak peek at the beauty and glory of this wonderful place in Revelations 21:1-Revelations 22:6. Take some time to read this section today. Notice in this passage that the holy city called New Jerusalem descends form heaven. Look at the description; New Jerusalem is adorned or dressed as a bride who is adorned or dressed for her husband. Guys, I don't know about you, but I can close my eyes and see Irene in her white gown at the back of the church coming down that aisle towards me. She was beautiful. Her dark hair flowed down around her brown shoulders and that white dress - isn't it something that when God wanted to emphasize the beauty of New Jerusalem He chose a bride as an example?  There is no more pain, sorrow, tears, or death.There is a beautiful spring available. There is in this account a description of a beautiful crystal river that flows from the throne of God. Meditate on this passage and the cross references and drink in the peace and beauty of heaven.

Heaven is the current dwelling place for all those in Christ who have died. All who have died, before the cross anticipating by faith and those after the cross having been given faith are immediately transported to this place when their regenerated spirit leaves the body. (Phil 1:23; II Corinthians 5:8; Matthew 17:3-4). Every family member and relative, every friend, everyone we have known who died in Christ is there enjoying all that God has provided. So many have gone on before us and we miss them. One day, we too shall cross that great divide (those who are in Christ) and we shall join them in that splendid place. "What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see..." and Take the time to listen, will you? I can't wait, can you?

Heaven is be a place where we will be very busy. Unfortunately, many people think of heaven as place of harps and clouds. Some even think we will be very bored sitting around for billions of years on soft fluffy clouds. Study the scriptures and see just how busy you will be for eternity. First, of all, heaven doesn't stay located beyond the atmosphere. Heaven comes down to this earth. Here are some of the things that will keep you busy:
  • We will worship God. (Rev 5:12)
  • We will rule and administrate. (I Cor 6:2-3; Ro 5:17, Rev 22:5; II Tim 2:12
  • We will rebuild cities. (Amos 9:14; Isaiah 61:3
  • We will build houses. (Isaiah 65:21, Isaiah 32:18
  • We will work. (Rev 7:15, 22:3; Titus 2:14
  • We will farm. (Isaiah 30:23; Hosea 2:22; Isaiah 32:20)
  • We will care for orchards. (Isaiah 65:21; Amos 9:13-14; Isaiah 55:13
  • We will raise livestock. (Psalms 8:3-9; Isaiah 30:23; Joel 3:18)
  • We will fish. (Ezek 47:10)
So, you won't have to worry about sitting around on some cloud for a billion quatrillion gazillion years plucking a harp. Some of you are going to look good feeding cows and riding horses. But wait, there is more, wait to you see me holding a hammer building a house.

Heaven's anticipation teaches us how to live now. There is no doubt that we live our current life on this earth. Regardless of where we were born and what our nationality might be or what our citizenship is, we as blood bought redeemed children of God are citizens of heaven. (Phil 3:20) All believers have "dual-citizenship." Lynn's and Chesney's songs remind us that nobody wants to go heaven now. We are way to "rooted" in this world and this life. However, Paul told the Colossians to not let the thingss of this world capture your mind. Think on heaven and think on it often. Anticipate heaven. Live life today for heaven. C. S. Lewis wrote: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist...If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world...Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing." 

Does this life arouse you for heaven? 

Do you have a spiritual longing and desire
 for that which only heaven can satisfy?

How are you preparing for heaven right now?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Theological Definitions: Benediction

Benediction: An act or pronouncement of blessing. The Aaronic benediction was given to Aaron and his sons as a part of their ministry in God's behalf toward the people, and is epitomized as a putting of God's name upon them, (Numbers 6:22-27). The New Testament parallel is the apostolic benediction, (II Corinthians 13:14) which reflects the progress of revelation by its emphasis on the Trinity. Other passages, notably Ephesians 3:20-21, Hebrews 13:20-21; and Jude 24-25, are often treated as benedictions by members of the clergy.

The question is whether these are true benedictions or whether they are prayers. In the benediction the minister acts on behalf of God in pronouncing a blessing upon the congregation, whereas in a prayer he is the representative of the people. [1]

Since the benediction is the last part of a service
it is often the person's favorite part of the service.

Which benediction does your church/fellowship 
use at the end of their worship services?

What benediction do you like best?

What purpose do they serve in your opinion?

[1] Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. by Walter A Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1984, 2001), p. 148

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are You In RobBellion?

RobBellion noun \rahb-ˈbel-yən\ - The state or condition of denying the revealed Word of God so that you can redefine God, Jesus, salvation, heaven, hell and the Gospel to mean whatever you want them to mean. [1]
[1] (copied by permission from Sola Sisters)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Common Grace Part IV

We now come to our final post on common grace. We have tried to give some understanding about common grace by beginning with a definition. We decided to use Wayne Grudem's definition in his Systematic Theology which he writes, "Common grace is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation." The operative word in this definition is the word "common." God bestows grace that is common to all people regardless of whether they are believers or not.

We then looked at some examples or where this common grace is depicted. We are able to look around us and see people who obviously are not children of God and see that they are often the recipients of the same good things that we receive. The areas that we see this common grace poured out include the physical realm, the intellectual realm, the moral realm, and the societal realm.

Last time we looked at common grace we looked at the design that God had in mind for bestowing common grace on all men.  We said that the first question that comes to the mind of most thinking people is, "Why would God give something like common grace to people who don't deserve it in the first place, and in the second place are considered by His standards to be sinners? We put forth the idea that there seemed to be at least four (4) reasons under-girding God's design; to redeem those who will be saved, to demonstrate God's goodness and mercy, to demonstrate God's justice, and to demonstrate God's glory.

Today we are going to conclude this brief look at common grace with...

The Deduction

When we contemplate the bestowal of God's common grace upon unsaved people, it behooves us to keep several things in mind. In other words, we come to some valuable conclusions or deductions. The first deduction is...

Common Grace Does Not Ensure the Salvation of the Recipient

Regardless of the type or the amount of common grace bestowed upon an individual does not imply that God is going to redeem or save that individual. Regardless of how popular, famous, wealthy, healthy, talented, skilled, or intelligent a person is, they are still born spiritually dead and condemned by God. They still need the gospel. Do not confuse "blessing" or even morality with salvation. The most moral and good person that you know still needs to be made alive by the Holy Spirit of God or they will remain condemned for all eternity. Many people appear to have absolutely no needs. Scripture makes it clear that all men until they are made new in Christ are enemies of God. Common grace, even in its abundance does not mean that the recipient is a believer or that they will become one. 

Admittedly it is difficult to share the gospel with the wealthy or affluent they do not think they have any needs. It is difficult to share the gospel with people who are moral or even religious. Do not give up, keep being persistent and share the gospel even with the wealthy, moral, or religious since they need the work of Christ applied to their hearts as well. Common grace does not guarantee soul salvation.

Common Grace does not give us cause to reject or condemn the good that the unredeemed does

Unbelievers by the common grace of God perform some good things. The mistake that Christians make is too many times they withdraw from the unsaved and reject them in all forms or fashions of their life that we are no longer any good to them. Make no mistake, all the good that the unbeliever does will not please God nor gain them any heaven at all. However, we all benefit from inventions, discoveries, advancements, and technologies developed by unbelievers within the sphere of God's common grace. God will even use the unsaved, condemned, and the enemies of God for the good of His people.

Common Grace should stir our hearts to greater heights of thankfulness

When you step out of your house and walk by beautiful flowers blooming, feel the warmth of the golden sunshine, or see kittens playing on a green lawn, does your heart seem to skip a beat causing you to look up to heaven and give thanks to God?  God has granted such many good things to the people he has created and this earth that he has created. God fills the fields with colorful flowers, he fills the mountains with streams, trees, and landscapes that are so beautiful.  God has granted us knowledge, technology, and information that blesses us in so many ways. All of these blessings, whether the birth of a baby deer in the mountains or the discovery of a vaccine to prevent polio, are evidence of the goodness and grace of our creator God. All of these things show us his infinite wisdom. All these things should cause us to give thanks on a regular basis.

Common grace. God's goodness bestowed upon all men, both saved and unsaved. Blessings that none deserve yet all can enjoy. Rain, full harvests, sunshine, oxygen, or kittens, God delights to give grace on all people. Thank him today.

What is your view point since reading these four posts on common grace in regards to the fact that undeserving and unconverted people are recipients of the good things of God?

Take a moment and list 5 examples of God common grace that is bestowed on 
every human  regardless of whether they are redeemed in Christ or not?

How would you use common grace to share Christ
 with an unredeemed friend or loved one?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: Think

Title:  Think
Author:  John Piper, pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church
Publisher:  Crossway (2010)

C. J. Mahanney, Sovereign Grace Ministries is quoted on the inside dust jacket as saying, "Thinking is the sturdy foundation for our easily misguided affections. If you want to feel profoundly, learn to think carefully. And start by reading this book!"

I have been saying and teaching from the pulpit for years that as Christians we must be "thinking" people. We must think deeply and carefully through our various positions in order to first, understand them, second, be sure that our positions line up with the Scripture and, third, to be able to articulate our positions or doctrines to a world that has almost become anti-intellectualism.

Piper addresses this same issue in his book Think.  Piper sets his own purpose in almost the first sentence in the introduction - "...a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people." Piper desires to build a case that would challenge each reader to carefully consider what he says and to become people who use their thinking process as a means by which to treasure God.

The book begins well. Piper introduces his topic well and begins to build steam toward his goal. I found the introduction very helpful in seeing how the stage was set and by what means Piper would tackle this great disparity between thinking and feeling. The first two or three chapters were easy reading and delightful not to mention quite informative.

Somewhere in the middle of chapter 6 it began to feel as if the book drifted and was going on to long. I found it a chore to continue to read and had to force myself to stay with the book until the end. The book lost my attention and focus and wound around differing ideas.

There is no doubt that Piper tackled a complex subject and dealt with material most people sadly do not consider. Nothing great ever comes without much effort. I am glad I persevered to the end and continued reading. The conclusion brought it all together and was very enlightening.

I believe this book is a very valuable tool and is a must read for every believer. Even though some will find it dull at points, if they keep trudging through they will find real gems and nuggets. One of the strong points of this book is when Piper writes about loving God with all of our mind. The reader will be rewarded with a strong exhortation to read critically and to think critically in order to properly love and treasure God by our reading and thinking. The benefit and value of this book is the heart-beat of John Piper (of course countless others through history) is how one can bring the heart and the mind together in the worship of our much worthy God.

I received a complementary copy of this book for this review. I was not required nor influenced to have a favorable opinion. All thoughts unless noted are mine.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Sundays in the Study is still being remodeled. The General Contractor is extremely
 sorry for the delays in construction. Hopefully the study will re-open soon. 
In the mean time please enjoy this editorial piece.

McDonalds Corporation is the largest chain of fast food hamburger restaurants in the world. They claim to serve over 58 million customers each and every day. McDonalds began in 1940 when two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California. The brothers introduced their "Speedee-Service-System" in 1948 settng the stage and establishing the principles inherent to the modern fast food industry.

April 15th, 1955 Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines, IL forever changing the hamburger industry. Kroc not only bought out the McDonald brothers equity but forced them out of the fast food industry. With his aggressive business practices and vision Kroc turned the McDonald's organization into a billion dollar +, international corporation of gargantuan proportions.

McDonald's influence and impact has transcended the fast food industry introducing new words into the English language and even the dictionary. We now find the prefix "Mc" attached to many words, i. e. McFries, McChicken, McSandwich, and countless others. In 2003 over strenuous objections the word McJob was added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary.

McDonalds is one of the most prevalent fast food advertisers. McDonald's has always focused on a positive and upbeat advertising strategy. They have only had one "negative" campaign when in 2009 as they introduced McCafe they took a shot at a "competitor" by advertising on billboards that "Four bucks is dumb." McDonald's advertising campaign has always focused on the "McDonald's Experience" rather than just a product.

The evangelical church is rapidly morphing into McChurch franchises as we find ourselves coming closer to the return of our Lord. The emphasis in many evangelical churches today is not so much on a product but rather on the experience. We have a generation of McPastors who have chosen to "kick off the traces" and establish franchise-like McChurches along the same tired mantras and models.

Last year, YouTube featured a video called Sunday's Coming which was an accurate parody of what these McChurch services have turned into, ( The frachisesque McChurches are as fluffy as McBiscuits at McDonalds. Doctrine has been dropped, teaching and preaching all but replaced with frothy McCafe-like McSongs.

Just like McDonalds and their emphasis on the "experience", today's churches focuses on "the experience," rather than on solid doctrine. Mood lighting, candles, scents, comfortable furniture, emotionally affirming music, and positive sermonettes are the anchors that create the "Sunday morning experience."

Mcpastors like Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Brian McClaren, Tony Compalo, and many more are challenging mainstream doctrines like hell, salvation, the church itself. Today's flavor is Rob Bell and his attack on the bible doctrine of hell. Yesterday it was Doug Pagitt. Who will it be tomorrows Ronald McDonald?

We need a revival among our churches. We need to return to the God of the Bible and the great doctrines of the church. We need to stand for truth rather than fall for McExperiences. We need to return to the Old Paths. We need to quit worrying so much about the seats that aren't filled and how we are going to please a fallen nature in order to fill them, and worry about those seats that are filled with those who truly are hungry for a word from God.

So, excuse me while I grab seven choruses and sing them eleven times for forty-five minutes, while I watch a play, and listen to an upbeat positive and affirming sermonette from a guy who no longer holds a bible, wears, work clothes with holes in them and tennis shoes with no laces. Oh, and by the way, I will take McFries with that!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pole Dancing For Jesus?

There is a former pole dancer in Spring, Texas who has taken "what she liked" from her pole dancing days and added Jesus to it. She has developed a program called Pole Dancing for Jesus with the emphasis on Pole Dancing Fitness. She takes contemporary Christian music as the back beat and dances her way to fitness while teaching up to 10 ladies at a time. No guys are apparently are allowed and the ladies who attend must show their "church program" (apt choice of words, I think) or what we would call a bulletin to get in. She considers this to be an extension of the her and the women who participates worship.

Let me say quickly, first of all, this is not a gateway to "stripping." She is not teaching women how to be strippers and if they want to go on to do so that is their prerogative. Second, I am not opposed to fitness or even most types of dancing. Third, I believe there are a number of activities that certainly reveal the glorious character of our majestic God. Fourth, I don't even think I have an issue with the pole dancing since apparently, the women remained clothed, no guys are present to be tempted to oogle and lust, and it is not performed in the sanctuary.

You say, why then do you even bring it up and draw out attention to it? It is indicative of the loss of true Christianity and a perversion of deep heart felt motives which are longing to worship. My heart is broken for this young lady because she obviously has no idea what true Christianity is really all about. Listen to her as she "defends" her activity to a Fox News correspondent:

After three years of being a pole dancer she left because, "She didn't feel very rewarded."  Is that the real or only reason she quit? And she goes to state however, concerning her decision to leave lest anyone remaining feels judged, " each his own." She states there is no "prayer before beginning, no crosses." Why? She answers, "to get past the stigma of the whole thing...I am very Christian." "I go to church every Sunday." "I pray, I talk to God, things like that" "There is nothing wrong with what I do." "I teach women to feel good about themselves...I teach them to be empowered." "God is the only person that judges." "Anybody who wants to judge me feel free to do it." "I am good with God, so that is what is important to me." "I really don't care what people think."

One member who attends said that it is just a way to get past the stigma and that there are many types of work outs and this is just one of them. I don't take issue with this. There are many types of fitness work outs and pole dancing sure looked to be very demanding and physical. Even the reporter who tried a few moves attested to the physical workout involved.

What breaks my heart is the expression of Dean's heart. Does she truly understand who God is and what real worship is? Is Christianity simply going to church each Sunday, talking to God and feeling good about one's self? It breaks my heart and it grieves the Holy Spirit to hear someone who may in fact be a Christian say that they don't care what people think about them or that they are impervious to questions.

Ephesians tells us how important we are to one another, we are to be about "...building up the body of Christ until we attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, ...we are to speak the truth in love...when each part is working properly makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:9-16, ESV)

I agree with Dean that we are not to be about judging the motives of others. However, there are times when we may need to be discerning about character, doctrine, fruit, or a person's maturity level. You see, Proverbs 23:7 warns us, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." My issue is more about what I hear coming from her heart than about her toning muscles and getting fit on a pole.

What justification do we have to do as we want
regardless of what anyone may say?

Can we add pole-dancing as an 
extension of worship?

How does "I talk to God, I go to church
every Sunday, I am OK with what I do
therefore God and I are OK work with
real or biblical Christianity?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Callahan Community Church

A Page From My Past!

Here is a picture I though I would never come across! This is the Callahan Community Church building in Callahan, California. Callahan is approximately 100 miles north of Redding, California. When I was attending Shasta Bible College, I was asked to be an interim pastor at this church while they searched for a permanent pastor. Irene and I would get up early on Sunday mornings, feed and dress four girls ranging in ages 14 to 6, load the car, and drive some 2 1/2 hours in order to conduct services.

The people were absolutely wonderful! We had a grand time there for about 9 months. They asked us a number of times if we would consider the church but there were issues that I felt needed to be addressed and changed before I would accept. We worked on those areas and they changed them all but one. It was time for me to move on and they found a man whom they called.

When we were there in 1988-1989 the building was already over 100 years old and on the historic register. That meant among many things that you could do no construction to update the building. So, yes, those are what you think behind the building. No, it is not a tool or storage shed. My kids use to love to get a turn at ringing the church bell and watching the bats fly out of the belfry.

Apparently, from the photo album this is from,this picture was taken December 7th, 2007. Let me assure you this building looks identical in 2007 to what it looked like in 1989. The yellow flatbed was not there in 1989 but the building is identical.

(picture from the Hubert Cicero Photostream Collection)

What do you see in this photo?

Happy 30th Birthday to my third daughter, Sharon A. Metcalf of Albuquerque, NM! Love you SAM3!