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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Afraid? Of What?

The poem, entitled “Afraid?” was written by Presbyterian missionary E.H. Hamilton following the recent martyrdom of one of his colleagues, J.W. Vinson, at the hands of rebel soldiers in northern China. A small Chinese girl who escaped from the bandits related the incident that provided the inspiration for Hamilton’s poem.

“Are you afraid?” the bandits asked Vinson as they menacingly waved a gun in front of him.

“No,” he replied with complete assurance. “If you shoot, I go straight to heaven.”

His decapitated body was found later.

Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash - a crash - a pierced heart;
Brief darkness - Light - O Heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To enter into Heaven’s rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not -
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? Of that?

* Thanks to Tim Challies for posting this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Interesting Videos

At first this video was funny but then I realized that in the direction that Americanized Christianity is flowing this product may soon be seen on the best sellers shelf at your local Christian bookstore (LIfeWay included). Publishers are producing special Bibles for people with special interests (camo Bibles, a green Bible, social justice Bible...), and producing audio Bibles read by professional athletes, Hollywood stars, and Nascar drivers just so that people will by the product and listen to it. What a low view of the Word of God we have! It should not surprise us if "The Porpoise Driven Life" were to come out.

I thought this video was interesting to say the least. It may have given you a headache from the information overload but it point taken from it is worth it. The video shows the world/culture that we live in: constantly changing. In the midst of this exponential change, we find ourselves searching for something that can ground us so that we are not carried away by every new release of technology or the constant bombardment of pseudo-urgent news alerts from around the world. That constant that remains unchanged in the midst of our turmoil is God.

For I the Lord do not change." - Malachi 3:6

"God is not man, that he should lie,or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" - Numbers 23:19

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

In a world that is ever changing at speeds beyond comprehension, we have a God that is constant and faithful, we have His Word that is ever true and relevant and we have a salvation that is not dependent on our faithfulness but that rests on the accomplished work of Christ. Praise be to God!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

"Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?" - Matthew 21:16

Today as my 4 1/2 year old daughter and I drove home from lunch she began to tell of the wonders of God. She was telling me what happens when she runs around in the church gym. She said that when she runs around her heart beats so hard that she can feel it with her hand but then she declared that the reason this is so is due to the fact that God created her that way. She continued by proclaiming that God created all of us that way and the only reason we can live is because he has made us. As she continued on she began to tell of how knowledgeable God is: He knows all the pieces of grass that are in the whole world, He knows the number of leaves in the world, He knows all the hairs that are on everyone's head, and He knows everything. This came in stark contrast to her evaluation of mankind, "No one knows anything like God does!" She finished by declaring that God loves everyone the best (better than mother or father, sister or brother, husband or wife). It was truly beautiful. Something that appears so simple to a little child has become such a stumbling block to those that consider themselves wise. Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will." (Matthew 11:25-26)

Lord make us to be like little children that trust their heavenly Father in all things!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Gospel of Reconciliation

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (ESV)

This quote from John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

"This accomplished work of reconciliation is the message committed to the messengers of the gospel. It constitutes the content of the message. But the message is that which is declared to be a fact. Conversion, it ought to be remembered, is not the gospel. it is the demand of the gospel message and the proper response to it. Any transformation which occurs in us is the effect in us of that which is proclaimed to have been accomplished by God. The change our hearts and minds presupposes the reconciliation."

Thanks be to God, who accomplished reconciliation through the blood of Christ on our behalf. May we ever stand in awe of His grace and mercy towards undeserving sinners!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How Much Do We Have To Hate Them Not to Proselytize?

Note the description of the man that gave him the Bible - sincere, complementary, SANE, and not defensive. You might say, "Shouldn't we defend the gospel against an atheist?" Yes but not in a way like someone just talked about your momma in middle school. We have been given the Truth and are to sanely interact with those that do not have the Truth. Thank God for the man who was used by God to reach out to Penn. How many of us would be humble and willing enough to do the same? Let this be a wake up call to all of us!

Thanks to the PyroManiacs for posting this first.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Bible is Better than Being There

From Desiring God by Tyler Kenney.

When it comes to knowing and believing the truth, are we worse off today than the Israelites who heard God speak from heaven or the apostles who physically sat at Jesus’ feet when he taught?

Or could having the Bible be better than actually being there when its events took place?

Here are 3 reasons we’re better off with our Bibles.

1. Scripture interprets the biblical events for us.

First-hand exposure to the historical acts of God isn’t always the best path to understanding. When Jesus foretold his death and resurrection to the disciples—even giving details about how he would be flogged, spit upon, killed, and raised on the third day—Luke states clearly that “they understood none of these things” (18:34). The disciples were unable to grasp what he said, though they heard the very words of Jesus.

We, on the other hand, the readers of Luke’s Gospel, know exactly what Jesus meant. We have the event interpreted for us in Scripture, clearly shown to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies and an accurate prediction of the events that would soon take place.

That’s not to say that Scripture is better just because it contains more facts. Even after witnessing Christ’s death and resurrection, and having him stand in their midst and show them his scars, the disciples still doubted. They didn’t understand what was going on even though all the historical facts were right in front of them.

What they needed was help to process and place those facts within the framework of God’s revelation. Thus Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” and showed them from the Old Testament the significance of what they were witnessing (see Luke 24:36-48).

Like the disciples, we need an interpretation of history in order to grasp God’s meaning in it. We need someone with understanding to take the data, select the significant things said or done, and portray them in an understandable way.

This is precisely what Scripture is: a selective (John 21:25) yet entirely sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3-4) depiction of what God has done.

2. Scripture’s interpretation is inspired.

No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

We need an interpretation of the past, but we don’t want just any interpretation. We want the Holy Spirit’s. We want an explanation by God himself that accurately conveys the true significance of what he has done and then penetrates our stubborn hearts with it.

Because the Holy Spirit inspired it, Scripture has the precision and power to teach people in a way that supersedes what they could ever learn on their own through direct exposure to the events. As Jesus says,

It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:7, 13)

3. Scripture appeals to our inner being.

One danger of having front row seats to God’s actions in history is that we could confuse our response to the mode of revelation with our response to the meaning of it.

We would certainly marvel to hear the Father speak through a thundercloud or to see Jesus walk on water. But we could easily come away from such events with only a natural thrill, rather than any spiritual apprehension of what they meant.

Scripture guards us from this danger simply by being a book. It wasn’t written to wow our physical senses, but, rather, as an appeal to our spiritual sense.

Wouldn’t God know the best way to reveal himself in order to build an authentic body of believers?

Yes. So he inspired men to write, “that [we] may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [we] may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

What Difference Does Believing This Make?

There are at least two effects of realizing that we are better off with our Bibles than with a time machine to the past.

1. More appreciation for having the Bible.

Rather than using Scripture as a tool for conducting our own analysis of historical events, we can read it as already being its own perfect analysis. The investigation has been done (Luke 1:1-4). We don’t have to “wish we’d been there.” We have what we need in the text.

2. More encouragement to share the Word.

In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man is in hell pleading with Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to convince his still-living brothers to repent.

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’ (Luke 16:29-31).

We don’t need supernatural signs to have an effective witness. We just need to present the Word of God. It is supernatural in itself and more powerful to convince hard-hearted sinners than anything else.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Behold His Glory

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
- Psalm 19:1-3

Tonight, as I gaze into the moon lit sky only feet from the ocean I am consumed with the glory of God. I have been at the beach for nearly 10 days now and have seen the coming and passing of a full moon. Along with this constant cycle of the moon, the tide has changed as well. On arrival the tide was out in the morning and high in the afternoon and evening. Once the full moon appeared the tide reversed with its height in the morning and recession in the evening. What a wonder creation is! In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. What a profound phrase. Not only did God create the heavens and the earth but He did so with purpose (telos). Foremost for His own glory and then to sustain life for mankind so that we in response to a glorious God, would glorify Him. God did not only create the heavens and the earth but sustains it, or even better, is sovereign over all of it. Everything has been designed for a specific purpose and was set forth by God to accomplish and also sustained by God to continue in that purpose. The moon does not only reflect the light of the sun to bring light upon the darken earth but is the tool by which God orchestrates the tides of the ocean. Amazing! Do I dare say that I understand the workings of all of nature? Not at all. But I do dare say that I know God is sovereign and in Him can I trust not only to be the Creator of all things but the sustainer as well.

Why is this of importance? If God is the Creator of all things then He has created you and I. If when God creates, He creates with purpose/intention/telos , as with the moon and the tides then He has created us for a purpose. If God is the sovereign sustainer of all things then we are only here by His mercy and grace. To not to respond to such a majestic and glorious God with worship and a surrendered life would be as unfathomable as the sun refusing to shine. He is the reason we are here and the greatest treasure to behold. The heavens are declaring the glory of God, and they are calling us to come and worship with our lives. Take a moment to see the glory of the sovereign God.