Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Baptism: When emotions trump truth, theology loses

From By Faith Online

excerpt: "The purpose of much rhetoric in theological debate is not to make people think but to make people react. This emotionally-charged rhetoric prevents people from considering the arguments logically—it prevents us from being Bereans. We are called as Christians to study the Word, to meditate on the Word, to test all things by the Word. But often, our emotional attachments to our beliefs prevent us from hearing the Word we claim to believe."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gospel Message in Leviticus by Spurgeon

"Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague." —Leviticus 13:13.

STRANGE enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God.

Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition.

We must confess that we are "nothing else but sin," for no confession short of this will be the whole truth, and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to those under a deep sense of sin!

Sin mourned and confessed, however black and foul, shall never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. Whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in no wise cast out. Though dishonest as the thief, though unchaste as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no soundness in him, and will pronounce him clean, when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to Him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner,

Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare; You can't come too filthy—come just as you are.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inevitable, Part II

SNL did another skit on Sarah Palin tonight. This time it was scary how well Tina Fey portrayed Gov. Palin. Whoa.

CBS Video vs. SNL Video

Controlling the tongue, resolutions from Sinclair Ferguson

During the Desiring God 2008 National Conference this week, Sinclair Ferguson shared a list of 20 resolutions from the book of James for how to control our tongue (which I am not so good at). These are great and very challenging as well.

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5)
2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10)
3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13)
4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19)
5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4)
6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. (2:12)
7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. (2:16)
8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14)
9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1)
10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11)
11. I resolve never to boast in anything but what I will accomplish. (4:13)
12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God. (4:15)
13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door. (5:9)
14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. (5:12)
15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (5:13)
16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful. (5:14)
17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need. (5:14)
18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed. (5:15)
19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them. (5:15)
20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander from the faith. (5:19)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is the Gospel?

From Greg Gilbert at The 9 Marks Blog
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
I remember a few months ago at church, one of our church elders asked me, "What is the Gospel?" I began by answering the "Gospel of the Cross" - that Jesus had died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin by suffering the full wrath of God, was buried and on the third day rose again, then ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of God making intercession for those who believe on Him and Him alone for their salvation - or something thereabouts.

Then he asked me, is that how you would share your faith with a non-believer? And I said probably not. How would you then, he wanted to know. So, I said there is more than one way to share our faith. The most common among our congregation would probably be the EE format - 2 questions and then the template format. However, I said that I was a firm believer that there is more than one dimension to the Gospel message and cited the New Creation as a part of the Gospel, stating that Christ's atonement is the foundation, but the Gospel message permeates our environment and surroundings, expanding beyond the point of salvation into cultural renewal.

We had a great discussion, but there were differing views on the topic. I find the links cited above extremely beneficial in expounding more fully what I believe about the Gospel message. What do you think?

What Happens When We Die? New study challenges materialist and existentialist presuppositions

New scientific study shows that a person's consciousness continues after the brain and body cease to function. Read the full article: What Happens When We Die?
This is a fascinating article that I hope will incite some good discussion between non-believers and Christians.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The gods of the nations are idols

"For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens." - 1 Chronicles 16:26

There seems to be no end to the idols of man. But there is one God, Maker of Heaven and earth. A very present and timely reminder for me. Today in prayer, praise the Lord that He is Lord of all and worthy of our praise.

“That to which your heart clings is your god.” – Martin Luther

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” – 1 Corinthians 10:14

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do not confer with flesh

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

My tendency is to ask someone I know, like and respect when I need to gain wisdom and insight into a situation or a decision that I need to make. I want someone to challenge my thinking, sometimes. Or I want someone to confirm my thinking, other times. And the Bible says there is safety in a multitude of counselors, right?

But the heart issue many times - when it comes to wisdom - is doublemindedness. Man cannot serve God and mammon. Man cannot serve God and anything or anyone else. That is idolatry and is rooted in unbelief. Ultimately, my problem, when I lack wisdom is doubt. My sin is unbelief - I do not believe rightly about God, who He is and what He has done (and is doing.)

That was just one of many insights from this week's study of James 1:1-8.
Here is another
Facing Trials>>>

How is the Christian to Love God?

Musings on loving God at Challies.com

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

he asks... "is there really a difference between 'how do I know I love God?' and 'how do I love God?' And if so, answer what should be a simple question: how is the Christian to love God?"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Encourage Him

"Encourage him."—Deuteronomy 1:38.


OD employs His people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, "Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan—go, encourage him." God never works needless miracles; if His purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, He will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses.

A brother's sympathy is more precious than an angel's embassy. The angel, swift of wing, had better known the Master's bidding than the people's temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road, nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done. We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God's message to you.


Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness.


God encourages you by His promises; Christ encourages you as He points to the heaven He has won for you, and the spirit encourages you as He works in you to will and to do of His own will and pleasure. Imitate divine wisdom, and encourage others, according to the word of this evening.
-C. H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seven Myths of the Single Woman

Seven Myths of the Single Woman (From Boundless)

1. God will give me a husband when I'm ready.

2. God views me more as a useful tool than a beloved child.

3. When it's the right guy, I'll just know.

4. When I get married, then my life will begin.

5. Marriage will/will not meet my deepest needs.

6. There must be something wrong with me.

7. The older I get, the less likely it is that I will find someone.

Read the entire article to get all of the details.

i guess it was inevitable...

Even though I was the first person I know to make the call, I guess it was inevitable. The characterization was much less flattering than I had hoped for. Tina Fey over did it. She obviously wanted clear separation between her Sarah Palin character and Liz Lemon. In doing so, she seemed to try to make Sarah Palin more like Peggy Bundy than the class act that she truly is. I really liked the interplay with Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton, but was pretty disappointed in what Tina Fey chose to do for her portrayl. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All Creatures

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him, alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heav'n along
O praise Him, alleluia
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him, alleluia
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in One
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in One
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

O, alleluia, alleluia

Friday, September 12, 2008

Conference Controversy Today & The Gov's Church

Sarah Palin has taken some heat from the liberal press and gay activists for the conference her church, Wasilla Bible Church, has been promoting. The actual conference is put on by Love Won Out and is taking place about 30 miles away from her church. As usual, the media has misrepresented the facts of what this ministry is about. Here is their FAQ, which I think is awesome (some fundies would probably protest Love Won Out's approach, but hey, they're not engaging in ministry to these folks either are they?):

Are you here to "cure" gays?
Absolutely not. The only time you’ll ever hear the word “cure” used in relation to our event is by those who oppose Love Won Out. They also like to claim we want to “fix” or “convert” gays and lesbians and that we believe people can “pray away the gay.” Such glib characterizations ignore the complex series of factors that can lead to same-sex attractions; they also mischaracterize our mission. We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It is not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women who have walked this difficult road successfully.

But your goal is still to make gays straight, right?
That is a gross and narrow oversimplification. We aren’t here to “make” anybody do or become anything; we are here to offer a biblical and experiential perspective on the issue of homosexuality that is, sadly, underreported in the mainstream media. Our goals include aiding parents who want to learn how to better love their sons or daughters without compromising their faith; helping people who want to better understand the many factors that can lead to someone adopting a homosexual identity; and assisting those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions and want to discover how they might also start upon the path ― a difficult path, as noted above ― to overcoming those desires.

Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
We do not believe anyone chooses his or her same-sex attractions. We concur with the American Psychological Association’s position that homosexuality is likely developmental in nature and caused by a “complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors” (www.apa.org). We would also agree with the American Psychiatric Association when it states “some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime.” If you ever hear us use the word “choice,” it is in relation to men and women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions choosing to steward their impulses in a way that aligns with their faith convictions.

Doesn’t God love everyone? Even homosexuals?
Absolutely. Jesus died every bit as much for those who protest our conference as for those who speak at it. You have never heard, and will never hear, any Love Won Out speaker say that God doesn’t love gays and lesbians. What you will hear is that God designed human sexuality to be enjoyed solely within the bounds of one-man, one-woman marriage. Any sexual relationship outside of that design – heterosexual or homosexual – falls short of God’s standard.

Link to their website>>>

Disengaged

The Stand to Reason blog continues a series of articles on pro-life issues:
Biden's Blunder
Construction vs. Development
What Is the Unborn

Unfortunately, they are not following up by answering the 'reasons' presented by those of the opposing view. They're presenting some useful resources, but in essence preaching to the choir by decidedly not engaging the other side of the argument. I do, of course, greatly appreciate the articles on:
Resources to Help Church Leaders Equip Their Members to Defend the Unborn

Remembering (part 2)

Real Remembering.
Excerpts from today's RZIM Slice of Infinity:

"from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday." (Esther 9:22)
...
"These days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants" (Esther 9:28).
...
"The blood will be a sign," the LORD declared. "And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike the firstborns of Egypt" (Exodus 12:13). From that day onward, celebrating the Passover was nonnegotiable, and with good reason. God had spared his people by the blood of a lamb. From that day onward, the command was passed down from generation to generation: "You shall remember this day as a statute forever" (Exodus 12:17). And so they remembered the Passover each year.
...
Centuries later, the disciples sat around the table celebrating their third Passover meal with Jesus... he lifted the bread from the table and gave thanks to God. Then Jesus broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying something entirely new: "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).


A personal perspective on this remembering:
For me, this is an awesome point that is often missed by the emerging crowd that questions the priority of church attendence and members. The communion of the saints and the preaching of the Gospel message are both ordained means of grace that God has given to His people today for this very purpose. Remembering the Truth of Christ.

And, on the other side of the equation, this remembrance is also associated with not only the solemness of reflection on sin and repentence, but in referencing both Esther and the Passover, we are reminded that there is great celebration in the remembrance of our salvation through the sacrifice of our Lord's blood for our sin. Joy! Joy! Joy! and Agape - the love of God the father, son and Holy Spirit working in us what we could never do for ourselves and making us truly New Creations in Him. Praise God!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How can we endure to live at such a distance

"The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of His glory, constant access to His court, and familiar fellowship with His person: nor is there any difference in this respect between one saint and another, but all the people of God, apostles, martyrs, ministers, or private and obscure Christians, shall all be seated near the throne, where they shall for ever gaze upon their exalted Lord, and be satisfied with His love. They shall all be near to Christ, all ravished with His love, all eating and drinking at the same table with Him, all equally beloved as His favourites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as servants.Let believers on earth imitate the saints in heaven in their nearness to Christ.

"Let us on earth be as the elders are in heaven, sitting around the throne. May Christ be the object of our thoughts, the centre of our lives. How can we endure to live at such a distance from our Beloved? Lord Jesu, draw us nearer to Thyself. Say unto us, "Abide in Me, and I in you"; and permit us to sing, "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me." - C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotional.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ever-convicting epistle

We're doing the letter of James in Bible study this semester. I can remember joking with a friend last year about how I would have so joined the Martin Luther bandwagon in the early days of the reformation, avoiding (and perhaps even denying) the text. On the surface, because it is the Arminian banner and who wants to deal with theological controversy (even though the controversy is actually 100% contrived).

But in actuality, I'm coming to believe that my inclination to avoid James for devotionals or study comes from the shear conviction of almost every passage. I fall SO far short of his exhortations. As I'm reading Chapter 1 tonight, this passage gave me a huge jolt:
James 1:26 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight
rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."
This kind of stuff is all thru James's letter. No wonder I tend to want to avoid him. This is serious stuff. And, you know, I'm not really qualified to teach this text. I must boldy throw myself down at the feet of Christ, the throne of Grace, and ask for His mercy. In obedience I serve, in spite of myself, despite my sin, shortcomings, failings, whatever you want to call it all. I submit my will to His and ask for His strength to do for me through me, what I am incapable of doing of myself. His grace super-abounds over and beyond my fallenness. Our fallenness. The world's fallenness. In Him, we live and move and have our being. All things from him, to him, for him. To Christ be the glory forever. Amen.

Redefining 'feminist'

I love the way Doug Wilson is thinking out loud on this right now. Good stuff. Read the whole thing.
exerpt:
"Granting that Sarah Palin does not look like June Cleaver, she looks a lot less like Hillary or Gloria Steinem. And, despite the differences, I can imagine Sarah and June having a very pleasant lunch together. If she tried to take Hillary or Gloria out shopping (for motorcyles, say) and a spot of lunch afterwards, all I can envision is stoney silences and a lot of glaring . . . and not from Sarah, who would be chatting happily. Sarah Palin ruffles the hair of some conservatives, but they can always comb it again. Doug Phillips will be all right in a couple days. In contrast, when it comes to the vampirism of the feminist left, let's just call her Buffy. They won't be all right in a couple of days."

This dovetails well with the discussion Damon and I had recently:
Buffy the vampire slayer (feminism, women's needs and church)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yep. She's articulate, bright and clean, but will they ever be able to get rid of the NeoCons now?

Okay, I've still got just a little more to say on Sarah Palin. Before I do, I will refer you to the latest article from Doug Wilson titled 'Epistomological Pileup' and Challies.com, 'Saint Sarah' for a couple of very good reads on the subject.

The evening that John McCain announced her to America as his pick for VP Candidate, she gave an awesome speech that blew Joe Biden out of the spotlight. He had just given his stirring speech the night before, pulling on the heart-strings of America with his touching family story. He told of his meager beginnings as a child of a blue collar family from Scranton, PA. And the upcoming deployment of son, Beau, with whom I served in the same National Guard unit just before I retired. (on a side note, I retired just 10 days before the unit received activation orders to Iraq. How's that for God's sovereignty? But I digress.). Even with everything that Joe had going for him, Sarah's candidacy completely took him off the PR pedestal. On the emotional level, every box Joe had check, Sarah out did him.

As impressive as that was.... Wednesday night, when she gave her AMAZING acceptance speech, she went way beyond taking on the Dem's VP. She actually out Obama'd Obama. She upstaged him in style, energy, charisma, hope, and even took him on the issue of experience. Not only was she articulate, bright and clean (ref: Biden gaff about Obama last year) I have to admit, I'm WAY impressed by her and what she stands for. She hits on all cylinders.

The underlying question for me right now, however, is how in the world are they going to be able to get rid of the neo-cons now? I mean the choice of Palin for VP is obviously a masterminded political move. This was an amazing campaign move and I'm okay with that. But McCain/Palin cannot take the neo-con with them into the administration. Their sneaky political posturing is one of the reasons why Evangelical Christians got kneecapped so hard by the last administration. These guys have no problem using us in order to accomplish diabolical ends. I am very much on guard against NeoCon pandering and even though I'm supporting her, I'm also still skeptical.

If I were McCain/Palin (fat chance, eh?), I would find a way to orchestrate a public fall-out this arm of Bush administration chronies about three days before the election.

UPDATE: Sermons from Sarah's church. Her current church seems to be biblical.
UPDATE2: However, here she is addressing her old church which is pretty interesting to watch. It goes to show the flaws of the pentecostals' wrong theology on the true nature of Israel and the end times. Not sure it says anything specifically about her.

Monday, September 1, 2008

August Monthly Round Up

My top 15 articles for the month of August in no particular order [unfortunately, due to the holiday, I'm a day late in getting this done. ]


1. Blessing Rather than Punishment from Stand to Reason Blog by Melinda
Excerpt: "These are examples of valuing all unborn children despite the circumstances, accepting responsibility and the challenges that life and actions present us rather than treating children as valueless and expendable."

2. Restoring Civility HT: The Dawn Treader
"We've got to learn to disagree without demonizing each other and we need to restore civility in our civil discourse and that's the goal of the Saddleback Civil Forum." ~ Rick Warren


3. Leaders as Peacemakers
By Ajith Fernando (via Considerable Grace)
How proactive and intentional peacemaking can help us overcome the common phenomenon of "evangelical grasshoppers," among other extemely helpful ideas.


4. It Has Become Clearer ... That We Should Confess Our Sins to One Another
ByFaith Magazine article. In James's epistle (which we will start studying this week!), we are commanded to confess our sins to one another. This is a great reminder of how important this is to the life and unity of the local Church body.

5. Video: Being Missional in a Post-Christian U.S. (HT: Drew Goodmanson)

6. Blog Ethics by Tim Keller and David Powlison - HT: Between Two Worlds
I'm convicted by this one! And learned a lot there too.


7. Missions from the Living Room: Reasons to house an international roommate. (Still contemplating this one.) HT: Desiring God.

8. "Is God Unjust? Not at All!" HT: Pastor Riddlebarger

9. Keller on Forgiveness HT finding grace (Emily)


The following (#10-13) HT: Vitamin Z

10. Thabiti Anyabwile answers this important question: “How should a Christian relate to Old Testament laws?”There is a ton to say here and books have been written on this subject, but I think his brief response below. Read the short article to see his answers fleshed out. This is crucial information for understanding how to read the Bible. He writes:
We should relate to Old Testament laws like Christians! That is to say, we relate to the Law in a few ways:

1. Acknowledging that Christ has fulfilled the Law for us.
2. Remembering we are not antinomians (lawless people with no moral code).
3. Using the Law evangelistically.

11. - Reasons People Choose a Church


12. -- A good reflection for all those who put too much hope in the next president by Shaun Groves, via Z: And The Government Will Be On His Shoulders


13. -Back by popular demand: Last month, a few visitors took the poll and voted Sinclair Ferguson's article on Indicatives and Imperatives--Get This Down as the BEST of the month. This month, I've got a link to the same teaching - on video>>> Don't miss it!!


JUST FOR FUN:

14. From Prodigal Jon at Stuff Christians Like:
PAMIC: Massages during church. (A manifesto against them)
CIMAP: Part 2 - Fans of Church Massages Respond

And finally:

15. Everything that Josh Etter, Fred Eaton and Bart Byl from Surrey, BC, Canada publish on Of First Importance!


Thanks for reading. Blessings in Christ!

Pray, Pray, Pray today

We've been praying since Saturday night about the hurricane hitting La.
New Orleans levees hold as Hurricane Gustav weakens
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Hurricane Gustav slammed ashore on the U.S. Gulf Coast just west of New Orleans on Monday but rebuilt levees appeared to be holding surging floodwaters out of the city devastated by Katrina in 2005. Full Article Video