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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Saved From Hell = Life of Gratitude: At least it should!

What is so terrible about Hell anyways?
Three times in Mark 9, Jesus describes the torments of Hell as a place "where their worm does NOT die, and the fire is NOT quenched." What a horrific thought! The thought we entertain for the majority of our lives is the eternality of heaven and what a wondrous thought! But oh, if we would consider just for a moment what awaits those who do not repent and trust Christ for salvation. They do not have any hope for heaven or any comfort to anticipate. Their only promise is found in an eternity of torment in Hell, where pain and anguish (physically, mentally and spiritually) will never cease to exist. That is all that awaits an unbeliever. The next time you begin to think about what joy a Christian has to look for eternally in heaven; first consider what would have been your home for eternity, if it had not been for the shedding of Christ's blood. It would have been Hell, forever. When we come to see not just what we have been freed for but all that we have been rescued from, our lives will become springboards of gratitude toward God. We will seek to be transformed into the image of Christ and we will be earnestly seeking to share what a great salvation we have been given to those who are destined for eternal torment. To better grasp the terror and eternality of Hell, John Bunyan wrote,

"In Hell thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls with an innumerable company of devils to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world the very thought of the devils appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble and thy hair stand upright on thy head. But O what wilt thou do when not only the supposition of the devils appearing but the real society of all the devils of Hell will be with thee; howling, roaring and screeching in such a hideous manner that thou will be even at thy wits end and ready to run stark mad again for anguish and torment. If after 10,000 years an end should come, there would be comfort. But here is thy misery; here thou must be forever. When thou seest what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think this again; this is my portion forever. When thou hast been in Hell so many thousand of years as there are stars in the firmament or drops in the sea or sands on the seashore, yet thou has to lie there forever. Oh this one word 'ever' how will it torment thy soul. A many are in the net moving toward that furnace of fire."

Think about these things. Mourn for those whose eternity lies in Hell, but do not mourn only. Praise God for the wondrous salvation He provided and declare to the world that "Jesus is the way the truth and the life."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lord, Change Me!

Lord, Thou art Beautiful,
Yet my eyes wander far from Thee.
Lord, Thou art Truth,
Yet my ears listen not to Thee.
Lord, Thou art Almighty,
Yet my trust is not given to Thee.
Lord, Thou art Faithful,
Yet my heart wanders from Thee.
Lord, Thou art Sufficient,
Yet my desires seek Thee not.
Lord, Thou art Worthy,
Yet my actions dishonor Thee.

Lord, set my eyes on Thee,
That I may gaze upon thy beauty.
Lord, open my ears to Thee,
That I may know Thy unshakable truths.
Lord, help my trust to be given to Thee,
That I may declare Thy might.
Lord, call my heart back to Thee,
That I may serve Thee faithfully.
Lord, let my desires be filled by Thee,
That I may live as You are all I need.
Lord, empower my actions to honor Thee,
That I may proclaim that Thou art Worthy.

Change me, make me more like You
That all glory and praise may be given that is due.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

From Death to Life to Living

Titus 3:3-8 "...But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared..."

The life I once lived

Was filled with much sin.

Slavery and bondage

Controlled me from within.

My spirit was dead.

My eyes were blind.

Death was my future,

With separation from the Divine.

Then God pierced my heart

By showing me His Son.

The pure life He lived

With the victory He won.

Victory over sin and death

Was offered by Christ to me.

By grace, through faith in Jesus

I repented and was set free.

The price that Christ had paid

No one can fathom the cost.

The life I now live through Him

All worldly things are counted as loss.

He was beaten and crucified

So that I could be without blame.

To crucify my sin and flesh

So that His cross would not be in vain.

Temptation will come and go

But in Christ I have all strength.

To follow Him in all my ways

No matter what the length.

For I once was dead in sin.

Condemned and destined for hell.

My Savior and Lord rescued me

Of whom, the world, I want to tell.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Truth - Is It Changing or Is It the Same Today, Yesterday and Forever?

"I cannot agree with those who say that they have 'new truth'
to teach.
The two words seem to me to contradict each other;
that which is new is not true. It is the old that is true,
for truth is as old as God himself" -- Charles Spurgeon

I ran across this quote the other day and really hit home with the thoughts that I have been having about many new attempts at either recreating Christianity or tearing it apart and starting afresh. There are several prominent voices in Christianity and even in Baptist life today that are approaching the Bible, doctrine and theology in that manner. To me, that seems to be very arrogant on anyone's part to say that they have found "new truth" that tears apart the very foundational doctrines that our faith was built upon. For many of us, we look at this and think that this will not effect us in any way. Unfortunately we would be completely wrong. Think about the books ("Christian") you buy. How old are the authors? Who are they quoting? How deep are they in their doctrine and theology in their writing or do they just give you some "new" pop-psychological formula for happiness, contentment, love, self-respect, etc.? If we all were honest, we tend to go for the "new," easy to read genre that is shallow and doesn't challenge or grow us spiritually. Do they quote movies or secular authors rather than the Bible and historical Christian figures that gave their lives for the glory of God? - Sorry, drives me crazy!

What about music? We love singing and that is great but who are we worshiping in song- ourselves or God? Are our songs that we love filled with doctrine, scripture and theology or are they just foo-foo song about our "buddy" Jesus. (Sorry about that, it almost seems blasphemous...b/c it is!!!) I love music (almost all kinds), but my heart soars when I hear/sing songs that are scriptural and reveal the truths of God and of Jesus. Look for yourself at those beautiful proclamations and you will quickly abandon the weak me, me, me songs that seem to be so loved today.

Lastly what about church? What are your ideas of what a church should be? Today the big "new" idea is that we have to be seeker-sensitive by watering down the Bible, the gospel, doctrine, theology, and genuine fellowship in the body of Christ. Oh how far we have strayed! Do you like programs (not that they are wrong) more than the hardcore preaching of God's Word? What about singing (I know music again!)? Do you refuse to sing b/c it is not what you like, or do you come to the presence of God humbly seeking any means to glorify God with all that you are? For most of us we have to say we make church mostly about us (our needs?, our desires, wants, preferences), and yes all the other fingers are pointing back at me. Who is church for? Us or God? God!!!! Completely God!!!! In singing, in fellowship, in service, in ministry, in preaching - everything is about God and for His glory.
Before you freak out and leave church in search of the perfect one, listen to me. Well not to me but to God and the Bible and the voices of those who came before us. There is no such thing as a perfect church nor perfect people, but just as we as Christians are being transformed into the likeness of God (HOLY), we are to be seeking in any way possible to show others within our church what the true church is. We cannot do that by leaving the church, but only through humble determination in becoming all that God desires and requires from us.

This brings me to the quote at the beginning. To bring a radical transformation in ourselves and consequentially the church, we must run back to the "old truths" of our faith and flee from the silly superficial propositions of the present. Truth is not changing and is not relative. God's Word stands forever. We need to abandon the pragmatic and success-driven ideology of today and seek real, genuine Christianity that is lying in the "old truths" of the past waiting for someone to come and rediscover them. Not recreate, not tear down and rebuild, but rediscover what was set in place 2000 years ago with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This can be done. It will not be easy, and there will be opposition. We have two choices: stay humbly where we are and do all that we can to reveal what true Christianity really is or we can rebel against our surroundings when the first opposition comes and completely destroy our witness and the witness of our church. Which do you think is right? Hope you choose the right one.
Do not neglect those that have come before us, because we owe all that we have to them. Embrace them, learn from them, but always with the scripture as your guide. There is truth, but it is in God and God is not new; He has always been.

Hope to get you thinking and headed to what God wants for you and His people.
Romans 12:1-2 " ... be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." through the eternal truths of His Word.

"Lust is Rape?" - To God It Is!

A few weeks ago I heard a description of lust that really took me back. A girl wrote in to a radio station and equated lust with rape. "WOW" that’s a hard thing to swallow, but before you reject this idea check it out to see if it is true. The definition of “rape” is any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person. The Bible says in Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.” Then Jesus revealed the true meaning of that command when He said, “that everyone who looks at a woman (a person) to lust after them has already committed adultery with them in their heart. (Matt. 5:27-30)” When we lust for a person in our heart and mind, we conspire or fantasize taking part in any sexual act with that person without their permission. Since God sees the intentions of our hearts to lust after someone is seen, in His eyes (which is all that matters), as the rape of that person.

I know that still sounds extreme, but look at the vow that Job made because of the severity of this sin. In Job 31:1 he says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” The problem today is that we are surrounded by things that can cause us to lust (billboards, movies, TV, magazines, porn). We have grown so comfortable with the sin of lust resulting in us loosing the understanding of the weight of the sin in God’s eyes. Just because cultures and times have changed does not mean that the Word of God has soften to accommodate us. Rather the Word of God, just as God Himself, stands true and unchangeable “today, yesterday and forever.” The first step that leads to physical action is the desire being manifested in thought. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so he is.” If we are lusting after people we are adulterers, not only that but we are rapists in our hearts.

The ultimate problem with this sin is if it is something that permeates our life it is more than an eye issue; it is a soul problem. The Bible says, “Do not be deceived…no adulterer…will inherit the kingdom of God.” All sin, no matter the human view, is serious to God and we are freed from its bondage through Christ in salvation. Romans 13:14 says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.” Only through Christ are we free.