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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.