Favorite Tunes

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

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.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? - Romans 6:1-2

I saw this clip on another blog relating it to the topic I wish to expound. While the clip is quite hilarious, there is a seriousness to it. The blog I found it on related the prescription given by Bob Newhart to "Stop it!" to God's declaration to the believer on dealing with sin. How is the believer to be in relationship to sin? We are to "Stop It!" Just as it was repeated within in the clip with every excuse or reasoning, so God's Word continually commands for us to stop sinning time after time.

Romans 6 declares that we are dead to sin because of our unity with Christ and His death burial and resurrection. Throughout the rest of the book of Romans, believers are directed to seek holiness of life and mind (12:1-2). In each of the epistles, Paul addresses the issue of sin and encourages the believer to be rid of it at all costs. In Colossians 3 we are told to put to death the members/desires of the flesh and to put off (completely leave behind) the old man and its desires. Not only is this a common theme found in Paul, but it is the constant reproof of our Lord. Jesus when encountering those living in open sin tells them to go and sin no more. It is interesting to see that the one being addressed does not turn to Jesus and begin to make excuses like "I cannot help it", "I am compelled to do it," or "it's just too hard." While those that encountered Jesus were left without excuse, most of us today pull out any excuse to try to justify or reason away our sins but we, just as those before us, are without excuse. If we are Spirit-filled, regenerated, justified, being sanctified, and awaiting to be glorified then we are completely without excuse before God and man when we sin. Sin is the very reason which Jesus died. This does not show forth a lacking on God's part but a tremendous fault on our part. It is our own unbelief of who God is, what He has done on our behalf, His promises for us and His sufficiency that breeds the temptations we encounter. Our idolatry for the false pleasures and treasures of this world exhausts our love for God causing us to be left with nothing to offer Him. When it comes down to it we must ask ourselves: What/Whom do I love the most? God or the things of this world? What am I trusting for what I need/desire? If we are not reading His Word, seeking His will through prayer and in constant submission (dying daily) then the war against sin will never be won. Psalm 119:11 says " I have stored your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Store up His Word, Seek His will and when it comes to sin just Stop It!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Question!

Have you ever questioned why God only provided one way? Or have you ever had someone ask you that or argue that there cannot be just one way? It is a tough question to handle, especially in our pluralistic culture, but I believe if we understand who God is and who we are then we and everyone else should be asking another question: Why did God provide any way of salvation? The video below explains everything:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Are All "Open Doors" a Confirmation from God?

It has often been said, "If God opens a door you should go through it" or "if God makes a way, take it." While that sounds encouraging and very pastoral, is it biblical? I have struggled with this concept ever since I surrendered my life to God for ministry. The picture painted by this phrasing leads me, if not others, to believe that if a door has been opened there is your answer without any problems and/or confusion. In my experience this has not been the case. Along the way it seemed as though I had rusty doors that may have been cracked a little but needed a good pulling to get open and others were wide open with a tripping hazard as I went through. As I encountered such situations I began to wonder if I could open a door myself or if God would allow me to open a door of my own choosing.

Biblically man is fallen because of sin. That means he is dead spiritually (can do nothing to please God), his health is fallen (prone to deterioration), his intellect is fallen (cannot fully understanding things truly without God's illumination) and his will is fallen (desires to sin or live contrary to God's will). The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). This being so, when we come to decisions in life, as discerning or biblically minded as we may be, can we still choose wrongly/selfishly even if it appears to be a supposed open door? First we must understand the how the "door" gets "open." Most Christians would say that it is God that opens the door and if there is such a thing as a door, I would agree that it is God who opens it. The problem is whether that door being open is a confirmation from God or not? If it is not a confirmation from God then what is it? I propose that it is God letting us, at times, chase after our own desires (for good or for worse). Some may think that sounds bad of God but it is really the fault on our side. Think about it; if you pray and pray for something and God has revealed to you that it is better that you don't have or do whatever you have been praying about and you continue to ask for it and then He allows it even to your detriment, who is at fault. We are! God said no therefore the answer is no. Remember the purpose of prayer is not to get God to do what we want Him to do but to get us in alignment with His will and purpose for our lives. This being so, then it would be fair to say that not every "open door" (though some are) that we come across in life is God saying this is what I want you to do.

Two examples: The first is Balaam from Number 22-24. As crazy as the story of Balaam is (especially the talking donkey), he is an example of this problem of whether or not an "open door" is a yes from God or Him letting us go our own selfish ways. Balaam is a false prophet from Pethor with the ability from God to curse people. The Israelites were securing the lands of the Transjordan and the Moabites were fearful that they were next to be conquered. The king, Balak, knowing of Balaam's ability to curse, sent his messengers to him with a bride to come with the king and curse the Israelites. Balaam told the messengers that he had to ask God if he could go and God responded no for he could not curse Israel, whom He had blessed. Balaam tells the messengers and they return to the king and he sends them back with a higher offer for Balaam's assistance. Balaam, intrigued by the money and knowing the answer from God was no, again tells the messengers that he had to ask God. Knowing Balaam's greedy heart, God told Balaam to go (an open door) but that he could not curse Israel. The next verse in the passage says that God was angry that Balaam went with them and was against him from that moment. What can be taken from this? Though there was an "open door" placed before Balaam to go with the Moabites, it was not what God wanted and He was against Balaam afterwards. God, if we ignore His answers to our prayers, will "open doors" for us, giving us what we want (for the worse).

The second example is Israel before they had a king. Throughout its history before having a king, Israel had been ruled by judges and prophets but they were not happy with the way that God had founded their nation. The last prophet to lead the land was Samuel and as he aged, his sons did not following in his ways and the Israelites demanded a king like the other nations around them. The Lord in response, said to Samuel that they were not rejecting him but that they were rejecting God Himself. Then He tells Samuel to warn them of what would come along with a king. Refusing to listen to Samuel the people continued to demand a king, so God told Samuel to appoint a king. From that moment on we can see a steady downfall of the nation through the ways of their kings. Just as Balaam had asked and gotten the answer no so the people of Israel were going against God's desire for them but He allowed them to have what they wanted (opened a door) for the worse. We, sometimes, do the same things. We see the ways in which the world is prospering and we want our spiritual lives and church to be the same way, so we set out in prayer asking God to provide this success and when we get "no" from Him, in our selfishness we press on ahead and open the door ourselves (with God giving us over to what we want).

When we come across a decision (fork in the road) in life we MUST do several things. First we must examine ourselves. Is this a decision or open door that I want to go through of selfish motives or is it something that can only be done in humility with the strength of God? We must discern our hearts because they even deceive us. Make sure that you have not pushed the door open yourself when God closed it in the first place. Secondly we must seek God in prayer. Not just once but without ceasing until we are given the peace of God of a "yes, no, maybe later." Thirdly, we must get godly not friendly counsel from those that have been there and done it (and done it well to the glory of God). Lastly we must be in His Word to know what God is like and how we are to live. In concluding: Are all "open doors"a confirmation from God that you are doing what He wants? We have seen that not all are Him saying yes but rather some, by our fault, are opened because God is allowing us to do what we want because we would not listen to Him. This is the hard part of life and I have found especially hard in ministry. Everything in ministry can be seen as doing what God wants but many times we do things because we want to and to make us happy or look good to others. So please be discerning, examine yourselves, study the Bible and pray, Pray, PRAY!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rescue the Perishing

Rescue The Perishing
Billy Foote, Fanny Jane Crosby

Verse 1:
Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Snatch them in pity
From sin and the grave
Weep o'er the erring one
Lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus
The mighty to save

Rescue the perishing
Care for the dying
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save
Church open your eyes once more
And see what Christ died for
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save

Verse 2:
Down in the human heart
Crushed by the temptor
Feelings lie buried
That grace can restore
Touched by a loving heart
Wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken
Will vibrate once more

As we're playing our songs
While we're singing them well
Have we forgotten the lost
The reality of hell
If we say we love God
Wanna see His will done
Will we offer our lives
Or just the songs we have sung
Do we even care
When will we care

Monday, March 17, 2008

About the Name Change

I ran across this phrase in my Doctrine class today and found it to be an accurate summation of the attitude I wish to have throughout my ministry. The shortened phrase was conceived during the Protestant Reformation and in the original it said "Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est secundum Verbum Dei" meaning "the reformed Church must be always reforming according to the Word of God." The shortened phrase "semper reformanda" simply means "always reforming" - something that I hope to always be doing. Within my blog description I add the verse from Philippians 3:12-14. I thought that these verses echoed the same attitude as the phrase. Paul, as theologically sound and as much of an imitator of Christ proclaimed in humility that he had not yet reached perfection. As Christians we will not reach the state of perfection on this side of glorification so with Paul and with the Reformers I say that we should "always be reforming." Tradition is simply tradition unless supported by Scripture. Glorifying God through Truth (my old blog name) is still relevant because I am seeking to glorify God with truth in every aspect of life by always reforming (always weighing my beliefs and actions by Scripture). I hope the change has not confused anyone and thank you for your patience with me in my learning and seeking of the truth.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Biblical Forgiveness or Wishy-Washy Blah-Blah

What is unique about Christianity among all the other religions/belief systems? The uniqueness is found in the offering of forgiveness of wrongs (SINS) and clearing of guilt. What does mankind need more than anything else? Is it money, food, clothing, rehabilitation, or acceptance? While all those things can be good it does not meet the greatest need of man - that is divine forgiveness and freedom from guilt in Christ. This is the truth and there is no escaping it. The world tries to tell us to keep our mouths shut but in the end all will have to face God in judgment and our eternity will hinge on whether we respond positively to God's offering of forgiveness through Christ. Even though the deception of post-modernity has deceived many, there is an inherent knowledge of this need in all of us - it can even be found on "ER". Yes it is surprising but a contrast to what we need (what Christ offers in Himself) and what the world offers (temporal ease of mind leading to eternal destruction). Watch this episode:

Pretty shocking! Not just the reaction of the man but the fact that NBC would air such truth in opposition to the current culture. Let this be a lesson to us all. Even though it is difficult to show someone their real need and the answer for it, we must offer them the hope that lies in Christ or we too are deserving of reaction that the man gave and even worse.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

10 More Ways to Improve Your Church's Worship Service

Here are 10 more ways to improve your church's worship service. They are not merely improvements but seeking the biblical way to worship. From Don Whitney at his site:

1. Plan worship only for people that CAN worship.
- Church is for believer's not the lost.

2. Keep technology on a leash.
- It is not a Hollywood production to impress man but a cry of praise to God. Technology good, but taken to the extreme - bad.

3. Move the announcements, welcome, and time of greeting to the beginning or end of the worship service.
- Do not break the attitude of worship to high-five "Buddy" or to announce the bake sale.

4. Prepare the congregation for worship.
- It has been a rough week, day, and morning before church - we need to center ourselves.

5. Construct a call to worship.
- Let people know why and what they are doing in worship.

6. Introduce new music wisely.
- Top ten on the charts does not mean doctrinally sound or edifying.

7. Don't hide the ordinances.
- Christ instituted them as a mark of the true church - do them and frequently.

8. Use confessional material.
- The congregation needs to know what they believe - so tell them (i.e., statements of faith).

9. Lead in cooperate confession of sins.
- We are to be bearing one another's burdens and holding each other accountable.

10. Scripturalize routine prayers.
- Do not be as the heathen, use scripture in prayer and change it up.

Once again read the whole article. Worth your while!

10 Ways to Improve Your Church's Worship Service

In a day and time where many churches are seeking to have a successful worship service, many leaders are looking to the world instead of the Bible. Don Whitney at his web site, The Center for Biblical Spirituality, presents an article that unwraps true worship. Here are the 10 ways he gives:

1. Focus on God in EVERY element of worship.
- Who else would we worship?

2. Have clear biblical support for every element of worship.
- So important but so ignored.

3. Offer to God and acceptable service [i.e., worship] in reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

- Anything else is worthless.

4. Preach Expositionally.
- It is God's Word - preach it as it is not as we want it to be.

5. Give attention to the public reading of scripture (1 Timothy 4:13).
- His Word is truth and truth edifies so read it.

6. Pray!
- We need God's help to worship Him.

7. Transition smoothly between elements of worship (1 Corinthians 14:40).
- Accidents happen but preparation and sincerity is key.

8. Do as much as possible congregationally.
- We are to be building one another up through fellowship.

9. Have congregational singing with musical accompaniment, not music with congregational accompaniment.
- It is not a concert for the people but a time of praise by the congregation for God.

10. Evaluate your worship service each week with several leaders.
- It's called humility and concern for God not self.

Check out the full article. It is much needed and right on.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Questions About Music

Here are some very powerful questions to help discern if you have been manipulated into thinking a certain way about music and worship. Here is the full article by Greg Gilbert at 9Marks.

  • Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?
  • Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?
  • Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?
  • Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?
  • Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?
  • If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?
  • Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?
  • Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?
  • Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”
  • Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Test Yourself: Football or Christ?

I know I have been posting several videos lately, but if someone else can say it better, "Let them say it!"

Good prep for the coming of the Super Bowl!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Judging, Judgment, Judgmentally!

I found this at  Desiring God by Abraham Piper:  Very insightful!

When we’re dealing with people who are different than us (everybody?) and trying to decide how to interpret the things about them that baffle us, we sometimes forget how fundamental beliefs are to the way we all act.  As Paul wrote “We also believe, and so we speak.”

Seth Godin points out that everyone has a tendency to misunderstand other people, because we don't pay attention to what they believe.  He notes that when you are dealing with someone “who is bitter, vindictive, loud and out to cost you your job,” it’s important to keep in mind that this probably does not stem from faulty judgment, but different beliefs.

He suggests that in these situations we should remind ourselves, “If I believed what [they] said when [they] wrote that angry blog post, I probably would have written the same thing.”

So before we judge others, accusing them of bad judgment, it's good to consider what beliefs are motivating them.  Then we can admit that if we believed like them we may very well have thought and acted that way, too.

This is humility, and it’s essential if we want to be compassionate (or even just tolerable to be around).  It keeps the focus on what really matters when relating to others: understanding what they believe, instead of judgmentally judging their judgment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Piper on Prosperity Gospel

Enough Said!

Having a Hard Time Grasping?

This is a
graphic that represents the number of abortions in the U.S. since 1973.

Is Abortion Really Murder? Seeing is Believing!

This is very graphic yet it is reality!  Be informed!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Are We Coming Together For the Worse?"

Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 deals with the order of the Christian church and in verse 17 he approaches the subject of the Lord's Supper.  When I read verse 17 the many thoughts I have been having about the current state of many (not all) churches came to summation.  Paul writes, "But in giving you this instruction [about the order of the church], I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse."  I wish there was some way to pause in a blog to soak in what Paul just said to the church at Corinth.  I guess I could use the current understanding of to pause found in the psalms.

Selah (pause, mediate upon)

Now if you are able to pick yourself up off the floor after being hit by those heavy words there is more to come.  What if Paul were to hear about your church?  More importantly, what if Christ were to hear about/come to your church?  What would He have to say?  Would He say as Paul did that He is not going to praise us because we "come together not for the better but for the worse?"  These are questions that we must wrestle with if we are seeking to be God-honoring within our local assembly.  If you are people-focused and man-centered in the way that you follow through in manifesting the church of God then these questions are of no concern to you.  For those that are concerned I continue.  I do not claim to be an authority on anything in this world but I do know what I read and study in God's word often times does not match what is being practiced in the modern church.  

Before I continue I must state my purpose in writing in such a way.  I am not against the church as a building or as an assembling together of God's children.  I am not trying slander anyone or any denomination because I believe that people and churches from all groups are accountable.  I am not trying to turn Christianity back to the Dark Ages or the 1st century.  What I am trying to accomplish is to find God's best through continual humility before Him and His word, seeking the best way in which we can honor Him in the local manifestation of the church.  

Now that I have stated my purpose, I return to the questions I posed and sum it up with this one:  Are we coming together for better or for worse?  It is a tough and complex question that can be argued from many angles.  My hope is to get you to thinking, to be questioning (not the truths of God's Word, but the way in which we live out those truths that are not presented in black and white), and to be seeking the best way in which to glorify God.  It is not an easy thing to do.  It is not a popular thing to do but it is the biblical thing to do and that is all that matters.  

So think about the question!  I begin with the picture posted.  It obviously is a mp3 player of some sort with the words "Free Sermon Download" written on it.  This pic came of interest to me as I have been becoming more and more sympathetic/empathetic ( I get confused) toward the younger generations coming up who are tired of the hypocrisy and complacency of their parents generation in the way in which they live out their Christian walk and their dedication to the church.  Basically they have had enough and are leaving churches at an ever increasing rate.  The reason I bring this up and posted the pic is because I wonder if some (or many) churches have reached a point in their existence that it would be more profitable for a member to stay home and podcast the sermon rather than attend the service.  I know that is an extreme statement and in no way am I condoning these actions, but with no where else to turn I can understand their reasoning although wrong.  Think about your church service; is it God-centered in its focus?  What about the music?   I am not talking about style rather what are you singing about?  God or yourself?  Is the mood of the service one of reverence or that of a country club?  What about the focus of the programs - is it to get people there and entertain them or to disciple believers so that they may go out into the world and spread the gospel?  What about the budget (I know everybody hates talking about money but Jesus was concerned with it) - how does you church spend its money?  Seeking to further God's kingdom or to grow in size?  What about the outreach programs (if any)- are they seeking to win the lost or merely go out and perform a duty?  What about performing those things that were clearly instituted by Christ?  The Lord's Supper, baptism, church discipline?  How are those things treated if at all in your church?  There are so many more things that I could address but you get the point.  I am not trying to be pessimistic nor a I trying to be judgmental.  The very thought of this has brought me to tears several times over the past months.  All that I desire is for God to be glorified in the best possible way found in His word.  To do so we must ask these questions.  By not seeking the best in humility before God every week we have become guilty of coming together not for the better but for the worse.

Please for the glory and honor of the God who rescued out of sin, shame and the torments of hell, seek the best, ask the questions and constantly humble yourselves before God so that He may move and work in and through you.  That is my prayer for all of us.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Have You Ever Prayed For Brokenness?"

The Bible states that our hearts are more deceitful than anything else and desperately wicked and that we cannot know it.  (Jeremiah 17:9)  In light of the state of our heart, "Have you ever prayed for brokenness?"  What I mean is have you ever prayed and petitioned God to break you over your sins so that you would be aware of them?  Since our heart is deceitful and wicked by nature we are in need of something/someone outside of ourselves to bring to light the secret (or so we think) sins that hinder our relationship to God.  That is where praying for brokenness comes in.  If we are truly desiring to live in right relationship with God we will seek any way to be rid of the very thing that hinders that relationship - SIN.  King David, several times alluded to this very process.  In Psalm 32 David cries out "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer."  David was physically/emotionally/mentally broken because of his own initiative but God in His grace was breaking David so that he could see his sin and repent and turn back to God.  David continues on revealing the product of his being broken.  He declares "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide;  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'; and You forgave the guilt of my sin."  Because God was working on David to break him, David was able to see his sin and return to God and in return God sis not further break him but forgave him and removed his guilt.  Several other times does David give witness to the work of God braking him to show him his sin to restore their relationship.

Another instance that this key aspect of the Christian life is found is Hebrews 12.  Over half of the chapter deals with the discipline/chastisement which the Lord enacts on His children. Verses 5-6 says, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives."  The very fact that God seeks to bring us to the place of brokenness/repentance reveals His love for us and our belonging to Him.  The chapter goes on to say in verse 8, "But if you are without discipline of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons."  The discipline that God uses to break us is not for mere divine entertainment but is fruitful for believers.  It first causes us to see our sin and run to God in repentance.  It leads us to holiness, righteousness, and the encouragement of fellow believers who are facing the same circumstances in their walk.  God breaks us so that He may be remake us into the image of Christ.

To pray for brokenness may seem contrary to the contemporary idea of the purpose of prayer, but that form has gotten us nowhere.  The biblical idea of prayer is not to get God to change or to do what we think is beast rather it is for us to come to Him in humility to be changed (broken if I may) by Him.  Because of the deceitfulness of sin and our hearts we need God to remove the veil from our eyes that blinds us from the sins that hinder our relationship with God.  We must; it is imperative that we pray to be broken continually by God over our sin.  If we do not we will be broken anyway just as a stubborn mule has to be broken by its master.  Be broken and be remade by Him in to His likeness.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

When We Are Lepers In Our Own Eyes!

"Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked
 deeds, and 
you will loathe yourselves for your sins
 and detestable practices!
" - Ezekiel 36:31

A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathes that 
which makes his 
stomach sick, much more will he loathe 
that which makes his 
soul sick! It is greater to loathe 
sin—than to 
leave it. The nauseating and loathing of 
sin, argues a 
detestation of it. 

Christ is never loved—until sin is loathed. 

Heaven is never longed for—until sin is loathed. 

When the soul sees its filthiness, he cries out, "Lord, 
when shall I be freed from this body of death! When 
shall I put off these filthy garments of sin—and be
arrayed in the robe of Your perfect righteousness! 
Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing!"

We are never more precious in God's eyes—than 
when we are lepers in our own eyes! 

The more bitterness we taste in sin—
the more sweetness we shall taste in Christ!

- Thomas Watson from "The Doctrine of Repentance" at Grace Gems.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Instant Gratification Bible Study!!

Now that I have your attention it s time to get serious.  I apologize for intentionally deceiving you but I knew that the title would be a catch.  The truth is that there is NO such thing as a "genuine" instant gratification Bible study.  Now, yes, there are Bible studies out there that boast of such claims but they are lying.  It is impossible to come to the Bible with a few minutes (sometimes seconds) of your time and think that you are going to glean from the Word what God intends for you.  

Today, while I was driving I began to think about studying the Bible and to what I could liken this discipline.  Some would say it is like searching around in the dark for something hidden.  To that I would say that to those who do not know Christ they are correct.  The unbeliever is wandering around in the dark when reading the Word because they do not have the Spirit of God enlightening them to help them to understand the truths of the Bible.  It is only through the light of the Spirit given to us through Christ that any of us are able to glean any truth from the Word. (1 Corinthians 1&2)   Others would use the ouija board method of thumbing through the Bible and wherever their finger lands is what God wants to say to them.  Besides the ridiculousness of this idea of Bible study, it is not what God intended.  Neither God nor the Bible is a magic eight ball, rather the Word of God is God's communication(revelation) to His people, revealing who He is, what He has done, what He is doing and what He is going to do.  In light of that, "How are we to study God's Word?"

The best illustration (as of right this morning) that I found to mirror the process of Bible study is the work of mining for gold.  We live in a culture, society, and time consumed with instant gratification.  We want what we want when we want it.  Fast food, microwaves, constant media interaction, credit cards, consumerism, next day shipping, and the like are all evidences of this overwhelming truth.  Unfortunately, Christians have allowed this mindset to infiltrate the church and their spiritual life.  We want shorter sermons and less singing in church, and in our spiritual lives we want instant growth and instant understanding/wisdom.  I see the problems in the church as a result of the impatience of Christians in their spiritual life.  Spiritual maturity/growth and biblical understanding do not come in a instant nor does it come over night.  It is something we are to strive after/work for.  When we do, we will reap the benefits God has for us.  2 Timothy 2:15 commands, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.To tie this to he illustration:  a gold miner does not simply walk into the mine and pick up the gold and his job is done nor does he expect this to be so.  He must first extract the ore in large chunks and break them down into smaller pieces.  Once this is done the miner must pan through (as shown in the picture) the pieces to separate the gold from waste.  Needless to say, the process is exhaustive and only by following this process will the the miner yield the desired results.  Similarly a Christian that comes to the Bible to study is seeking after gold/treasure and can be found only through diligent and disciplined work.  We must labor for the truth, not because it is so hard to find but because it is incredibly valuable and worthy of effort.  We are seeking after the very thoughts and words of God.  If He is worth our very life is not His Word deserving of all our effort and attention?  Though  it is tempting to follow after the world and seek the easy (supposedly but it is a lie) way out, resist because the fruit of your labor will be beyond compare.  Spend the time, use the resources, seek the guidance of the Spirit but more than anything be patient.  Wait on the Lord, let Him transform you through every word studied and fall more and more in love with the Savior of your soul everyday.