Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sleep: A Formidable Instructor, Part I

We often attribute the qualities of our character to great teachers in our past. Most, if not all, of these teachers are usually people who have been joined to our lives by circumstance or chance. Nannies, nurses, teachers, tutors, friends and even foes positively or negatively contribute to our emotional, spiritual, educational, and intellectual development.

It seems that only on the rarest of occasion do we attribute our development to inanimate entities. When we do speak of these things we have a tendency to refer to them with such colorful monikers as “the school of hard knocks,” “education by trial and tribulation,” “baptized by fire,”, or “learning the hard way.” However, failure to be fully aware of our surroundings can cause us to miss some equally great teachers and great lessons.

One inanimate entity that is rarely recognized as a great teacher is that of “sleep.” When was the last time you thought of “sleep” as your instructor, let alone the important lessons that sleep can teach you? I guess the first question to really consider would be, “what could sleep possibly teach us?”

“It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalms 127:2, ESV)

The first thing that we see in this passage is that sleep derives from God as a gift. God gives his children sleep. We do not have to endure guilt or anxiety in regards to our employment or enjoyment of sleep. God created the human body with the capacity to require sleep.

Like any gift from God, sleep can be abused. When we try to either go without sleep or we spend an inordinate amount of time asleep we are abusing this great gift. On the rarest of occasions, such as illness, injury, or insensibility, we may sleep more than the typical required amount in order to heal emotionally or physically.

The second thing we see in this passage is that sleep develops our faith. When we sleep we are forced to cease trusting in ourselves and our abilities and trust God. We are driven by our need of sleep to recognize that we have limitations. We are not indestructible or invincible. We are bound by our limitations. We are taught that we don’t have to work all of the time to have and maintain the things that we need. God knows what we need and will provide them. He will provide them even during a time of sleep.

The third thing we see in this passage is that sleep diminishes greed and anxiety. It is interesting to note that Solomon unequivocally states that it is vain, fruitless, lacking substance or worth; it is to no avail or success, to get up extremely early and to stay up extremely late to plant or harvest. Rising early or retiring late will not make our food grow any faster or with a great yield. You might set up to watch corn grow, but it won’t grow any faster because you are watching it. Mind you this was written by an agrarian king in an agrarian society. We don’t plant and harvest as they did in Solomon’s time, but we soon learn the similar tendency to work harder than smarter and to worry about what we cannot control.

Enjoy this great gift from God! Remember, to not abuse it by refusing sleep, over indulging in sleep, or becoming anxious because sleep curtails our activities in acquiring things we think we need or want. Also, remember to give thanks to God for this precious gift.

Tomorrow we will conclude this short examination of sleep with the greatest lesson teaches us. This lesson is not in this passage, but never-the-less, it is extremely valuable.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Supreme Court: Churches Protected From Bias Suits

 WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that certain employees of church-run schools and other religious organizations cannot sue for job bias. The unanimous decision stresses the need of religious groups to carry out their mission without government interference.

 In one of the most important church-state cases in years, the justices recognized a "ministerial exception" to federal protections against job discrimination, a stance that had been adopted by several lower federal courts.

Wednesday's decision did not fully define who would be covered but suggested that any people connected to the religious mission of the institution, even with minimal related duties, would be covered.

"The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. "But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission." (emphasis mine)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Conversion is a work of God!

“Conversion is a work above man's power. We are 'born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God' (John 1:13). Never think you can convert yourself. If ever you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 2:1), a new creation (Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Ephesians 1:19). Are not these out of the reach of human power? ... This is a supernatural work ... 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of mercy he saved us' ... 'Of his own will he begat us' (James 1:18). We are chosen and called unto sanctification, not for it (Ephesians 1:4). God finds nothing in man to turn His heart, but enough to turn His stomach; He finds enough to provoke His loathing, but nothing to excite His love. Look back upon yourself, O Christian! Reflect upon your swinish nature, your filthy swill, your once beloved mire (2 Peter 2). Behold your slime and corruption ... How then should holiness and purity love you? ... Who but must needs cry, Grace! Grace! ... What but free grace could move God to love you.”
Joseph Alleine, "A Sure Guide to Heaven"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Long and the Short of It...

If "Jesus Wept" (John 11:35) is the shortest verse in the English Bible, what is the longest sentence in the English language?"

(Scroll down to view answer)

"I do"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Top Ten Television "Truths?" - Truth # 10

 "Cat heaven is a wonderful place, 
but you don't get there if you are euthanized."

--Angela Martin
The Office, Season 4, Episode 1
(Angela is holding a photo of herself and Sprinkles prior to Dwight euthanizing her)

Disclaimer:  This is not an endorsement of this series. I am simply intrigued at times with the profundity, power, or playfulness of humanistic philosophy. This was just "profound" and "humorous" enough to take a place on my "irreverent" Friday's.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Apostasy. Deliberate repudiation and abandonment of the faith that one has professed. Apostasy differs from heresy. A heretic denies an aspect of the Christian faith retains or maintains the name of "Christian."

Examples of apostasy are found throughout the bible - Demas (II Tim. 4:12), Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Tim. 1:20)

The apostles warned that apostasy would rise in the church which would culminate in the appearance of the "Man of Sin" (II Thess. 2:3; I Tim. 4:1-2)

The New Testament gives numerous warning to believers to avoid the danger of apostasy and the consequences of falling way from the Faith. (Heb. 6:5-8; 10:26)

Emperor Julian (361-363) renounced the Christian faith and attempted vigorously to reestablish paganism in the Roman Empire was a famous apostate who became known as "The Apostate."

The early church faced ten major and official periods of persecution. These persecutions resulted in some believers to renounce their faith in order to retain their lives. The church was divided over whether these "apostates" could be restored to the faith and the church. Some were readmitted with a public confession of guilt and repentance.

Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed,( Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 1984, 2001), p. 85

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


En Gedi's fame comes out of the story of David and King Saul. In I Sammuel 24 we are told that Saul was looking to take David's life. David and his men go up into the mountain of En Gedi to hide from Saul. God has told David that the time would come that, "his enemy would be given into his hands to do as he thought best." In this case David and his men find this place of solace. They hide deep in the recesses of the mountain. Saul brings 3000 men from Jerusalem to find and kill David. They are combing the mountain. Saul needs to "relieve himself" and goes into the very cave in which David is hiding. David's men see this as David's chance to end the conflict. David thinks about it and sneaks up behind Saul and cuts off the corner of his cloak. David then returns to his men. He tells them that after much thought he knows Saul to be God's anointed King. He believes it is not his right to harm him. He convinces them to leave Saul alone. King Saul later leaves the cave. As he is descending the mountain David calls out to him and shows him the corner of his cloak. He pledges to Saul that he will not, and does not want to, harm the anointed of God. He tells him that surely this should convince Saul that there is no need to hunt him down. David assures him that he is not, and never will be, a threat to Saul or his Kingdom. This could be the very pool of water that David drank from and bathed in while hiding from King Saul.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sexperiment 2011?

A Piece of My Mind…

Don’t you hate conversations that begin with, “Well, I am no prude, but…?” I assure you that I am no prude nor do I shy away from legitimate conversations about sex. After coming across an article by David Shariatmadari in The Guardian, dated January 9, 2012 I feel compelled to weigh in.

According to Shariatmadari’s article Ed and Lisa Young spent 24 hours in a bed on the roof of his Dallas/Grapevine Texas church building in what they call a Sexperiment Bed-in. Their mission apparently was to “underline the importance of regular sex between married Christian couples. I suspect, tongue-in-cheek, Shariatmadari stated that Ed and Lisa Young would NOT practice what he intended to preach, at least not on that occasion.

Young streamlined the event live on his website. The Young’s gave interviews, answered relationship questions, and “taught” on God’s purpose for intimacy in marriage.”

Your first question is probably, why? Well, it seems the Young’s have written a book called Sexperiement which calls for a “seven-day sex challenge” for married couples. The point seems to be to encourage couples to have sex every day for a full week in order to “experience the power of marriage done God’s way.”

Cori, a commenter on Young’s website wrote, “Good one Pastor Young for talking about this in the church – for too long we’ve been embarrassed to talk about sex, and the devil has had a field day – time for Christians to take back what belongs to us!”
Lisa Young told CNN: “For far too long the church has been silent about a subject God was not silent about. He certainly is the author and creator of sex, so why would we not, in the context of church, speak about something that he (God) was not bashful about?”

There is no doubt sex is not only created by God but it is a gift of God to His children for both pleasure and pro-creation. Someone once said, “Sex is God’s wedding present to be opened on your wedding night.” Again, there is no doubt that the church has a divine responsibility to teach what God says about marriage, family, the home, and sex. The leadership of the church should not shy away from teaching every subject within the pages of the bible.

But, let me give you a piece of my mind…

First, teaching on sex and sexual issues must be done discreetly within the confidential confines of a safe setting not in the auditorium. Sexual issues certainly shouldn’t be taught from the roof of a church building while being streamlined live on a website. We must be sensitive to age, emotional maturity, and proper etiquette when the leadership teaches on this subject.

We certainly need to instruct God’s people on relationship issues, marriage, family, and God’s purpose for intimacy. The church should not be insensitive to the needs of the families that are within its membership. We certainly shouldn’t be afraid of the subject of sex.

Second, the mechanics of sexual intimacy should be discussed with husband and wives by doctors. Great care must be exercised when discussing the dynamics and mechanics of the sexual act. Less than prudent counseling sessions have ended in disastrous adulteries.

Third, we must guard against several inherent dangers while teaching, discussing, or counseling on such an intimate, personal, and sensitive subject.

  • ·        Reducing the subject of sex from precious and God-given to the level of the street where it could become mundane, dirty, or animalistic
  • ·        Titillating for the sake of arousing sexual feelings or desires
  • ·        Compromising biblical standards and parameters
  • ·        Creating temptation to sin while attempting to be relevant, hip, or on the “cutting edge
Bashful or not, prude or “prudent” or not, we must seek divine wisdom and leading when teaching on such a sensitive and powerful subject. Carrying out our God given responsibilities as pastors, parents, and partners (married) does not give us carte blanche to turn such a gift from God into a “three-ring circus,” or in this case into a video spectator sport on a roof top of a building supposedly dedicated to the worship of our majestic God.

What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gregg Metcalf's 55 Undeniable Truths - The Second Ten

11.  I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. I will shoot first and ask questions later, or I will drag your bleeding body inside my house "proving I shot the intruder inside the premises."

12.  Life is extremely short. Therefore, take Solomon's advice, "Rejoice, O young man in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these Gold will bring you into judgement...Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:13b-14, ESV)

13.  If you are 15 minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time you are late, and if you are late, you are irresponsible.

14.  Time heals nothing. Dependence upon Christ through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and proactive obedience results in the healing of all wounds.

15.  We do not all have the same amount of time. Each person may have the same 24 hour cycle in a specific day, but no one knows the amount of time or days God has decreed for each person. Use your wisely and fully.

16.  If you take yourself to seriously you will explode. Don't think more highly of yourselves than you should. Learn to laugh at yourself, God knows, others already do.

17. If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.

18.  It can always be worse.  Many times we will have trials and tribulations, but regardless of ours, someone somewhere has it worse.

19.  There are two ways to become a fool: the first is to believe what isn't true, second is to refuse to believe what is true. Many times the only difference is wise discernment.

20.  Insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting different results.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It Will Cost You Everything!

A quote from Steve Lawson:

He [Jesus Christ] is not coming to play games. He is not coming to be docile. He is coming to dominate, and He is coming to slaughter... He is the King of kings and He is the Lord of lord’s— and at the end of this age He will bolt out of heaven on a white steed— and His garments are dripped in blood, the blood of His own enemies— and He is coming back to conquer and to damn.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Theme Songs for Bible Characters

Saturday's Humor and Faith
  • Noah: "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"
  • Adam and Eve: "Strangers in Paradise
  • Lazarus: "The Second Time Around"
  • Esther: "I Feel Pretty"
  • Job: "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues"
  • Moses: "The Wanderer"
  • Jezebel: "The Lady is a Tramp"
  • Samson: "Hair"
  • Salome: "I Could Have Danced All Night"
  • Daniel: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
  • Joshua: "Good Vibrations"
  • Peter: "I'm Sorry" 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday?

January 20, 1920 American Civil Liberties Union founded:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

It works through litigation, lobbying, and community education. Founded in 1920 by Crystal Eastman, Roger Baldwin and Walter Nelles, the ACLU has over 500,000 members and has an annual budget over $100M. Local affiliates of the ACLU are active in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases in which it considers civil liberties to be at risk. Legal support from the ACLU can take the form of direct legal representation, or preparation of amicus curiae briefs expressing legal arguments (when another law firm is already providing representation).

The ACLU has played a role in many landmark court decisions, including the Scopes Trial, Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, and Miranda v. Arizona.

In addition to representing persons in lawsuits, the organization also lobbies for policies that have been established by its board of directors. Current positions include: opposing the death penalty; supporting gay marriage and the right of gays to adopt; supporting birth control and abortion rights (as established in Roe v. Wade); eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and gays; supporting the rights of prisoners and opposing torture; supporting the right of religious persons to practice their faiths without government interference; and opposing any government preference for religion over non-religion, or for particular faiths over others.

The ACLU also maintains a variety of educational programs, intended to educate the public about civil liberties. It seems to very rarely, if ever befriend and advocate for Christian groups or positions. So, I don't know if we would want to "express Happy Birthday sentiments" or simply say "Oh My!"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Waiting for new heavens and a new earth

"...according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens 
and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
(II Peter 3:14, ESV)

These new heavens and new earth will come into being following the visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ and after Jesus institutes His rule on this earth. Our Lord will judge the ungodly and Satan and then He will destroy the old heaven and earth.

God had originally created the heavens and earth and then gave them to Adam to rule, or to maintain dominion over them as steward or manager. Of course, as we read in Genesis, Eve was deceived with Adam joining in her deception sinned. Sin, then entered in both man's and the earth's experience.

The earth now, according to Paul (Romans 8:22), groans in anticipation for the day when God will judge Satan, Sin, and the ungodly. Even this earth longs for the day when the curse is lifted from it and it is restored to its original condition.

Peter told his readers that the "old heavens" will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat. At the same time it seems the "old earth" will also be burned up. We as believers are waiting for this day. This is our hope - Christ's return, the destruction of unrighteousness and the establishment of righteousness.

How about you? Are you expectantly waiting for the new heavens and the new earth that Christ will provide? Jesus Himself has promised them to us, you can truly count on them. What a day that will be!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not A New Vision, Just a Tired Old Version

Lyons Vision for Christianity in America is not new, it is simply the same tired old mantra that has been hanging around since the fall of man. Gabe Lyons, founder of Q and best selling author has set out to destroy what he calls "an incoherent half-truth of sin and salvation." Lyons recently (Jan 11th) spoke at Calvin College.

He claims that the Christian message that is being proclaimed today is no different than someone giving you a novel with the first and last 100 pages ripped out with no explanation. He states you would be furious at the author for writing a book like this or the person who would dare give you such a book.

Lyons advocated both his joy at and the "demise" of Christianity. He believes that what he calls "the Next Christians" will have a more enlightened view of what God really intended. In his first book called UnChristians, Lyons and his foundation tracked what he called the "demise" of Christianity by recording the "falling of Christianity" from public favor.

According to Lyons’ research, the first association with Christianity that 91 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 make is with an anti-homosexual stance. Three-quarters believe Christians want to impose a right-wing agenda on others, and 70 percent view them as proselytizers, merely interested in padding church rolls with fresh converts.

Lyons developed his vision for this new Christianity in his book The Next Christians. Lyons presented his audience with reasons for Christians to have hope. This hope lies in the rediscovery of what he called Christianity’s “full story.” He states that this story begins with a "good creation" and ends with the responsibility "to restore it." Lyons believes Christians are rediscovering that this means going and advocates that we go out from the churches into all areas of culture – into Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Wall Street, and the educational world.

The dangerous lie hidden within this new Christianity of his is a reduction if not refusal to talk about sin, repentance, and salvation in order to talk about restoring the original creation by the creation of good things in these above mentioned entities. Lyons has developed a vision of Christian community as a commonwealth founded on love and justice in the midst of the kingdoms of the earth. Through his organization Q, his website, and his books he is trying to sell this new vision.

God has not commissioned his church to restore the creation that was marred by the fall. He will do that by, not restoring this present heaven and earth, but by destroying them with fire and by melting them. God has commissioned His church to preach the good news of the gospel of reconciliation. Reconciliation of God and man made possible by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which calls for the recognition of sin and repentance. These are the things that Lyons, Q, and those of his ilk have celebrated their demise.

Every generation has its Gabe Lyons. Those whom God has destined to be deceived will no doubt buy into his sad, tired, false premise. Those whom are has elected to eternal life will not be deceived regardless of the "reasonableness" of such false teachings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



1.  a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc.: The liquid has the consistency of cream.
2.  steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: There is consistency in his pattern of behavior.
3.  agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing: consistency of colors throughout the house.
4. the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness

If you ask me, the most difficult aspect of the Christian walk is consistency. Waiting, praying, trusting, believing, and even growing or stretching are far more easier tasks than actually remaining consistent in attitude or actions. The unbelieving world rests on coiled springs ready to pounce on any hint of inconsistency in the walk of a believer. May God grant us the daily wherewithal to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with our holy calling as true children of God.

--Gregg Metcalf

Monday, January 16, 2012


Report on Religion
 Faith, Church and History

Christian Persecution on the rise in India
Hostility in India has been increasing over the entire country as a direct result of the fast growth of the church and the great response to the Gospel in so many areas. Recent threats and outbreaks of violence against Christians in India show persecution is on the rise. Any hope for justice in this New Year looks grim.

North Korea still number one in persecution of Christians

 North Korea tops the list for the 10th straight year as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution, while Islamic-majority countries represent nine of the top 10 and 38 of the 50 countries on the annual ranking according to the 2012 World Watch List.

Afghanistan (2), Saudi Arabia (3), Somalia (4), Iran (5) and the Maldives (6) form a bloc where indigenous Christians have almost no freedom to openly worship. For the first time Pakistan (10) entered the top 10, after a tumultuous year during which the nation’s highest-ranking Christian politician, Cabinet Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated for his attempts to change the blasphemy law.

The rest of the top 10 list by Open Doors is composed of Uzbekistan, Yemen and Iraq. Laos was the lone country to drop from the top 10 list, falling from number ten to twelfth.

Persecution has worsened due to Muslim extremists, however Dr. Carl Moeller, Open Doors USA President/CEO, believes that North Korea still deserves its No. 1 ranking.

Perry makes faith-based pitch to voters in South Carolina. returned to the presidential campaign trail on Sunday with a fire-and-brimstone rallying cry to evangelical Christians whose allegiance in the South Carolina primary will be a pivotal force in the Republican nomination race.

Opening a two-week tour across the state where he launched his campaign in August and now hopes to revive it, the Texas governor invoked his Christian faith throughout his remarks to supporters at a diner in Spartenburg, a bastion of religious conservatives in upstate South Carolina.

Faith in Jesus Christ, Perry told the Beacon diner crowd, was part of what led him to resume the campaign after he was trounced in the Iowa caucuses.

January 10, 1739: George Whitefield, the preacher who sparked America's first Great Awakening, is ordained to the Anglican ministry. Whitefield took to open-air preaching after jealous ministers denied him the use of their pulpits, and he was perfectly suited to it—his booming voice, it was reported, could be heard a mile away.

 January 11, 1759: The first American life insurance company is incorporated in Philadelphia—the "Corporation of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday's Quotes and Quips

“Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday's Humor and Faith

The Dentist's Hymn: Crown Him With Many Crowns

The Weatherman's Hymn: There Shall Be Showers of Blessings

The Contractor's Hymn: The Church's One Foundation

The Tailor's Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy

The Golfer's Hymn: There is a Green Hill Far Away

The Politician's Hymn: Standing On The Promises

The Optometrist's Hymn: Open My Eyes That I May See

The IRS Agent's Hymn: I Surrender All

The Gossip's Hymn: Pass It On

The Electrician's Hymn: Send Out Thy Light
The Shopper's Hymn: Sweet By And By

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hero (Michael Israel)

Have you seen this video? If you have it is well 
worth watching again! Yes, it brought tears to my eyes. 

Regardless of whether he is a believer or not or whether "nationalistic patriotism" is a spiritual component, we must, I say must, thank God for the various men and women that he raises up in services like the Fire Department or Police Department which are dedicated to serving and protecting us.

I enjoy sharing things with you that move me or bless me. I want you to share in the same blessing and enjoy various talents.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


verb:  To redeem by payment of a price in order to recover from the power of another as to ransom or buy off, to buy up for one's self, for one's use as in Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of His own vicarious death.

 "To redeem (ex-ag-or-ad' - zo)  them that were under the law , that we might receive  the adoption of sons..." (Galatians 4:5, KJV)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are We Trying to Have our Cake and Eat It Too?

 Woman denied handing out pagan books at public school 

When the Buncombe County (North Carolina) School System called Ginger Strivelli’s bluff, the Pagan mother of a student at a Weaverville elementary school didn’t back down.

gingerstrivelliIn December, school officials had allowed a local chapter of The Gideons International to make Bibles available at North Windy Ridge Elementary. When Strivelli’s son came home with one, she complained and asked to drop off some Pagan books at the school.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Principal Jackie Byerly initially said, “If another group wishes to do the same [as the Gideons], I plan on handling that the same way as I have handled this.”

But when Strivelli showed up at the school with her books, she was informed that she couldn’t leave them because “a new policy is being crafted.”

When will people wake up and do some real thinking? A new policy is being crafted that will probably state that no materials can be handed out at the school. What are Christians afraid of? I will tell you what I believe the problem is - most believers truly doubt the sufficiency of Scripture and the Sovereignty of God.

We as believers need to know that this is not the Kingdom age where Christ rules with a rod of iron and works of unrighteousness are smashed. What I mean is what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. If we want the right to distribute "Christian" material or bibles on state, federal, or municipal property, then everyone else must have the same right. Are we so foolish as to think we can have and eat our cake at the same time?

I happen to believe that God's Word is fully sufficient to counteract any pagan material that the Devil can come up with. I also believe that God is so sovereignly powerful that He can at any time and in any manner overrule the works and powers of darkness. We have never been called to legislate righteousness. Our duty is not to prevent the distribution of pagan material but to witness to the reality and power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are to be both salt and light in a darkened and decaying world.

When we attempt to prevent the cults, occults, and pagans from distributing their material we run the distinct risk of being denied the opportunity of distributing "our" material. All we do is make our commission that more much difficult. You didn't see Paul drafting legislation demanding that the Athenians take down all the idols that filled the city. He simply recognized their deception, formulated a plan, preached Christ and proclaimed the gospel.

I believe Satan has developed a plan to "silence" Christian witness by deception causing believers to be distracted from their primary responsibility of being effective witnesses by attempting to legislate righteousness. In my opinion this is really the end result of Arminianism and Dominionism.

Arminian theology lends itself to the belief that even though God is "all powerful," he is restricted by man's actions and activities. Dominionism states that we as Christians are responsible to take over the world and make it a Christian domain. Neither is biblical nor do they lend themselves to our true mission of making disciples.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand
Words by Gregg Metcalf
Music by Jenean Thompson
written May 1992
recorded by Christ Church of Federal Way, WA 1993

I was teaching expositionally through the Epistle to the Ephesians in our church in Federal Way, WA. As I studied the text I was moved by the promise of God's presence in a passage. I wanted to pray and praise God for the sweetness of the moment. Then I picked up my pen and wrote these words.

I finished them, took them to my secretary's office (an accomplished musician) and asked her to write some music. She did, a beautiful ballad was put together by her incredible voice and musical talent on the piano. She heard that Christ Church of Federal Way was producing a CD of worship and praise songs. She ran this song by the producer and our song was selected to be recorded. It came out beautifully.

When I fail and it's more than I can bear
when my heart tells me there's no one to care
when the sun has set and the night takes command
by His presence He takes me by my hand

Every day I live the winds of fear assail
and I think I'm about to be lost in the gale
I run to the one that commands the wind
I'm not afraid He holds my hand once again


Hand in hand together we walk through the night
by His strength by His grace by His holy might
He takes me where there is peace by his demand
in His presence He takes me by my hand

Have you fallen in the race and lost your way
is your night so dark you're afraid to pray
let me tell you friend there's a light up ahead
don't be afraid there is nothing now to dread

Hand in hand together we walk through the night
by His strength by His grace by His holy might
He takes me where there is peace by his demand
in His presence He takes me by my hand

We need not hear a heart so weak and in despair
have joy give praise for there is one who cares
Yes it is true that oft today I might fail
but I know I'll never be lost in the gale


Hand in hand together we walk through the night
by His strength by His grace by His holy might
He takes me where there is peace by his demand
in His presence He takes me by my hand

In His presence He takes me by my hand
Thank you Lord, for taking my hand

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Top Book Picks for 2011

 Here is a listing of my top 10 books for 2011. They would be a valuable addition to any believer's library.

1.   ESV Study Bible

2.  Christ Formed in You - Brian Hedges

3.  Radical - David Platt

4.  A Method For Prayer - Matthew Henry

5.  John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock - Iain Murray

6.  Concerning the True Care of Souls - Martin Bucer

7.  Heroes - Iain Murray

8. Here I Stand - Roland Bainton

9.  The Autobiography of George Mueller - George Mueller

10.  The Church in the Making - Ben Arment

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Flaws of Worldliness

Sunday's Quotes and Quips

 “Worldliness proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man's fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a 'fool for Christ's sake.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Highway Men and Hymns

Saturday's Humor and Faith

For those of you who drive, 
if you must speed on the highway, 
please sing these......

45 mph: God Will Take Care Of You

55 mph: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

65 mph: Nearer My God To Thee

75 mph: Nearer Still Nearer

85 mph: This World Is Not My Home

95 mph: Lord, I'm Coming Home

Over 100 mph: Precious Memories 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Letter of Samuel Rutherford

Title:  Letters of Samuel Rutherford
Author:  Samuel Rutherford as selected by Andrew A. Bonar
First Copy Right:  1664
Type of Book:  Hardback
General Subject:  Inspiration, Christian Living
Price:  $39.00
ISBN:  0-85151-388-3

The purpose of this book is extremely difficult to nail down. A collection of Rutherford's letters were published 3 years after his death. This compilation was published in 1891 and these letters were selected by Andrew A Bonar. Bonar's purpose of selecting these letters seems to come from the book jacket where he is quoted as saying, "What a wealth of spiritual ravishment we have here! This edition is a noble volume and we shall measure the soundness of Scotch religion very much by the sale of this work. One page of Rutherford is worth a thousand tomes of the Downgrade frothiness."

It seems that the purpose of this volume is to inspire, instruct, and to inculcate the very grace of God to those who would read these letters. These letters serve as a very large door way into the heart of this great pastor. They show his knowledge and love of the Savior and his love and commitment to his people.

Rutherford wrote various letters that encouraged, edified, or engaged the recipients in the grace and knowledge of God. He wrote these letters from the view point of a pastor who was deeply aware of his charge and responsibiltiy before his God to shepherd the sheep trusted to him. Rutherford made no attempt to be technical or dramatical. He wrote beautiful biblical theology which was coated by God's grace.

The author's style is homy, personal, parochial, and precious. He writes in the formal prose of his day, yet the letters flow informally from his heart to his people.

This book effected me very deeply. The heart and depth of this man's relationship with God is almost beyond comprehending. One cannot read these letters without grieving over one's sense of one's own lack of intimacy and yet a joy in knowing one can strive for this intimacy. Rutherford's language is almost heavenly, it was bathed in constant prayer. If Bonar's purpose was to inspire, edify, and demonstrate God's grace, that purpose was certainly accomplished. I would recommend this book to every believer who wants to know what it is like to walk in the shadow of God.

The theme of this book is inspirational letters of a pastor to his people. The thesis seems to be, pastors must comfort, instruct, and edify their people.

Rutherford develops this theme by simple narration. He also uses explanations and analytsis to present his various truths in various letters.

For example in letter four, he is writing to a parishoner whose infant daughter had died. He paints a tremendous picture of where a believer's affections should really be by writing:

"Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock." 

This book was extremely interesting and inspiring. It is an extremely valuable tool in Christian growth.

Samuel Rutherford was a Scottish pastor and theologian. He was a professor at Edinburgh College in Scotland. He was an author having published a book defending the Doctrines of Grace and his book Le Rex (The Law and the King) caused him to be charged with treason. He died before he could respond to a governmental summons.

My general conclusions is that is an extremely valuable addition to any believer's "library." This book will have a major impact on those who truly drink deep from the well of grace which each letter is bathed with.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Word Study: προλαμβανω

Our goal for today's word study is to determine the meaning of προλαμβανω within its biblical context. Please keep in mind there are two important truths that govern our study: first, our word study must be based on the original language and not the English word, and second, the context is the ultimate determiner of the precise meaning of any word that we are attempting to study.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." (Galatians 6:1, ESV) 

The King James, New King James, and the Revised Standard Version translate our word as "overtaken." The NASB, English Standard Version, and the New International Version translate it as "caught." The New Living Translation translate the word as "overcome."

 Careful scholars will translate the original text with the English word (s) that most clearly convey its meaning. It seems that the best translation of this word is "overtaken, or overcome." 

We can initially conclude that some believers are overtaken by some sin or fault. This doesn't tell us very much, however, it is a good start.

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) defines "overtaken" as "to catch up with, to catch up with and pass by, to come upon suddenly; to seize."

 The Englishmen's Greek Concordance of the New Testament (p. 657) shows that Paul uses this word one other time in the Greek New Testament:
  • I Corinthians 11:21 -- "For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk."
New Thayer's Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (p. 541) tells us that "overtaken" is used to translate the Greek Word προληφθη. It is defined by Thayer's as to take before, to anticipate, to forestall, to take one by forestalling (by surprise.)

Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says that is a compound Greek word, "pro" and lambano." It means "to anticipate, to take, of forestalling the less favored, or "of being overtaken." In this passage it means " of being caught by sin through being off guard.

Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p.14) says of Paul's usage in Galatians 6:1, "The point of προληφθη is that Paul has in view a fault into which the brother is betrayed "unawares," so that it is not intentionally wrong. In this case brotherly help is demanded rather than unloving judgment.

Prolambano (prol-am-ban’-o) can mean "to anticipate", "to take before" (hand) and "to be overtaken." It is used three times in the New Testament. It is used twice by the Apostle Paul.

So, let's pull this all together and define our word.

First of all, our definition carries within it the "genes" for debate and controversy. The word that Paul used does not refer to a deliberate, willful, or planned sin by an individual. As a matter of fact, Paul would not suppose such a man who deliberately planned to sin as even being a Christian. In Paul's theology, a believer has been freed from the penalty and power of sin and therefore has died to sin.

Secondly, Paul is not treating sin in the church as something that is a "hypothetical possibility." He recognizes that sin in the church is a reality. Therefore, moral failure should not be a surprise to other members in the body when it occurs.

Third, our word strictly by definition and context refers to an individual who has grown lax in keeping up his guard and is suddenly and by surprise overtaken by a temptation. This is a sin which people fall by weakness and being unalert. Barnes describes it as "a slip that might occur to a man on a very slippery or icy road." In other words, if he doesn't pay attention, suddenly, he will be overtaken by a fall from the ice.

Within the context then, those believers who are living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit are to take the responsibility to restore any believers who have dropped their guard and slipped into a fault or sin.

(I don't know why my typing switched to small in some places. I have used normal all the way through this post. It switched on its own. I am sorry.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Did You Resolve for 2012?

"I appeal to you...to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God..." (Romans 12:1, ESV)

While the rest of the world is making and pronouncing grandiose resolutions for this coming year, what about you Christian? How have you responded to this challenge by the Apostle Paul to the Roman believers? What resolution have you made to respond to this challenge to give yourself without reserve to the service of our gracious God?

I realize that many of us simply dismiss this challenge because we believe it is impossible for us to keep. After all, the last thing we need is one more resolution dangling about broken and forgotten. Recognition of our weaknesses and reluctance to step out in faith and make such an oath should not keep us from making it our aim. The good news is that such a commitment is not grouped with such things as "three strikes and you're out."

William Law wrote in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life in regards to why particular sins are so prevalent, "Now the reason...is this, because men have not so much as the intention to please God in all their actions." Ouch! What is my intention? What is your intention? Do we, as blood-bought redeemed children of God intend to to please God in all of our actions? This is what Paul had in mind when he addressed the Christians at Rome.

It seems this intention is the key to a life of obedience, service, and holiness. Remember my favorite axiom, if we aim at nothing we will hit it every time? Well, if we don't make such a commitment, even though we know that we may fail not once but several times, we will never strive to live such a life that Christ and Paul called for.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hell Was A Hot Topic in 2011

It seems that hell was a very popular topic in 2011. Hollywood films, New York Best-sellers list, and theological debates devoted quite a bit of time to this usually unpopular and dark subject. 2011 saw a resurgence in the debate of whether hell actually exists or not and will people really be sent there.

I did not see the movie but early in 2011 Hollywood put out a film with Anthony Hopkins who played a demon possessed priest engaged in a fierce battle with Satan called The Rite.

Harold Camping, former President of Family Radio predicted that Christ would return for true believers and that catastophic judgment would fall on the earth on first, May 21, 2011 and then when that didn't occur on October 21, 2011.He predicted judgment day with "weeping and wailing."

Former Pastor, Rod Bell wrote and released a best-selling book called Love Wins. Bell questioned whether a "few select" people would actually make it to heaven while billions of other people "burn forever in hell." Bell argued that God's grace and His infinite love will eventually win over many, if not all people giving them heaven also.

Pastor, oops, former Pastor, no, I guess Pastor Francis Chan wrote a response to Bell's book called Erasing Hell. Chan thoroughly studied the bible for what it and Jesus had taught about hell and concluded it was real. Chan worries that people will become complacent about their destiny with devastating results if Bell is wrong.

Also in 2011, Lauren Winner, assistant professor Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity wrote that Bell's book "exposed a debate among evangelicals that has been percolating underground for years." She states that there has been "hints of creeping universalism" in the evangelical world for about the last 30 years.

James Martin, culture editor of America Magazine has written extensively on the subject of hell. His conclusions (in accordance with Roman Catholic thinking) is that people land in hell not because they have faith or no faith, but because they choose to reject God's grace and attempts at reconciliation. Martin has stated that his favorite quote is from St. Therese of Liseux who said, "I believe in hell, and I believe it is empty."  Martin does say two interesting things about hell, one, he is not taking any chances with hell, and two, in the end, hell is a mystery.

Well, it seems that hell was a mystery to many in 2011. Of course hell has been both taught and rejected for centuries. The reason for such a discussion in 2011 may be somewhat mysterious but the subject is not. The bible is quite clear on the doctrine of judgment, punishment, and hell for unrighteous unbelievers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Facts

Fact:  I missed posting and reading Monday facts during December.

Fact:  Irene and I moved on December 10, 2011. Shannon, Sonja, Madilynn, Bryttany, and friends Larry and Alex did the complete move for us. They loaded and unloaded the UHaul. Praise God for their help!

Fact:  Irene and I love our new place. It is a small apartment, but what the heck? It is only us two now, oh yeah, and Fi Fi. It is cozy and warm.

Fact:  We froze for seven winters in our previous home. If there is one thing I will not miss about that house it is the freezing cold during the winter.

Fact: I now have a galley kitchen. It is unbelievably small. I am still having a difficult time getting use to cooking in it. I love the rest of the apartment but the kitchen is terrible. It is really for a single guy who lives on peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, and soda. There is not even enough counter space for my griddle, I now use three pans for breakfast (in place of the griddle) to cook bacon, eggs, and hash browns. It was a dark- comedy trying to cook black bean soup yesterday and baked Cornish game hens. (This is not the kitchen, it was just a shot of a galley kitchen to use as an example.)

Fact:  We had a wonderful "Christmas." Irene went down to Sonja's on Saturday to help prepare Christmas dinner. I got up leisurely, had biscuits and gravy and then gathered with the body at Coal Creek. I then drove down to Vancouver and enjoyed Christmas dinner with Irene, daughters Shannon and Sonja, granddaughters Madilynn and Bryttany, and nephew and niece Dan and Lupe. We had ham and a great roast.

Fact:  My niece Lupe gave me a framed picture of the plaque and four rocks from the Areopagus where Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. Yes I am pretending Paul stood on or held those very rocks.

Fact:  We spent New Year's Eve at home watching Season Six of Law and Order. Very quiet, very safe, and very cozy. Stayed up this year and watched 2012 arrive, usually I go to bed early and miss the arrival of the new year.

Fact:  After being assigned to HMM-261 and transferring to HMH-461 MCAS New River, NC, I was ordered to join VMA-211 a light anti aircraft bomber stationed in Iwakuni, Japan. I was the NBC NCO, Training NCO, and Operations Clerk. My overseas tour was for 13 months and included Okinawa (The Rock) and Olongapo City, Philippines.

Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) is a United States Marine Corps attack squadron consisting of AV-8B Harrier (V/STOL) jets, known as the "Wake Island Avengers."

VMA-211 can trace its lineage to January 1, 1937 when Marine Fighting Squadron 4 (VF-4M) was activated at Naval Air Station San Diego, California. Although it was the second time a VF-4M had existed, the previous one was decommissioned in 1931 and it was not considered the same squadron. The squadron was decommissioned in 1933 but was recommissioned as VF-8M in 1935. On July 1, 1937 VF-8M was re-designated Marine Fighting Squadron 2 (VMF-2) and by the end of the year, had completely reequipped with Grumman F3F-2s which replaced F3F-1s and a few even older F2F-1s. The squadron participated in annual Fleet Problems while at San Diego and even played a part in the making of the movie "Dive Bomber." Several future Medal of Honor recipients served with the squadron during this period, including Henry Elrod, Robert Galer, and Gregory (Pappy) Boyington. In January 1941, the squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii and was re-designated VMF-211 on July 1, 1941.

With escalation of the Vietnam War, VMA-211 moved to Japan in 1965 and commenced the first of four deployments to the Republic of Vietnam. In August 1976, the squadron returned to MCAS El Toro.

VMA-211 was deployed in the spring of 1972 to Naha Air Force base on Okinawa and within three months was redeployed to Bien Hoa Air Base in Viet Nam. It was the only strategic American fighting unit left in Viet Nam except for small Army Air Cav unit in Bien Hoa.

In September 1987, the squadron celebrated an aviation milestone when it passed 30 years of flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. After successfully completing the last overseas deployment with the A-4M Skyhawk in 1989, VMA-211 began transferring these aircraft to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in preparation for transition to the AV-8B Night Attack aircraft. In June 1990 the squadron began flying the Night Attack variant of the Harrier. During this time the Avengers were awarded Marine Corps Aviation Association "Attack Squadron of the Year" three times, in 1995, 1996, and 1998.

In September 2000, the squadron began introduction of the latest Harrier variant, the AV-8B II+ radar aircraft. The squadron soon fielded a complement of both Radar and Night Attack Harriers.


Fact:  Fi Fi likes working at the apartment offfice. Everyone loves her, gives her treats, and is spoiling her rotten. I should be treated this well. The tenants call her the "Assistant Manager."

Fact:  Web Pierce was a great singer. He did a great job on "I Can't Help It if I am Still in Love with You." But He ain't no Hank Williams. Still love the original. However, it still didn't stop me from turning him up and rockin' the office a bit.

Fact: He put in a pool at his Nashville home in the shape of his guitar. That's Web standing on the diving board.