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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Am I Doing My Part?

I detest the term "lay people" (even more than I hate the phrase "parachurch")...and this is the reason:


"According to Christ’s law, every Christian is to be a minister in his own sphere; every member of the church is to be active in spreading the faith which was delivered not to the ministers, but delivered to the saints, to every one of them, that they might maintain it and spread it according to the gift which the Spirit has given them." Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Most books, yeah, But not the Bible

Somerset Maugham said, “The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

This may well be true of most books; but it is not true of the sixty-six books contained in The Book.

"Well, what this verse is saying to me..." sounds okay at first blush...and certainly the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to speak directly to us in a variety of ways. But that same Spirit wrote through human authors with certainty and primary meaning. As we "work out our salvation in fear and trembling" it does, in fact, take work (and time) to "study to show ourselves approved..."

To rightly hear from God it is vital to read in context...and that is why I continually encourage people to read the Word the way it was written...book by book rather than hopping around reading a few verses here, and a few verses there.

In these days when there is so much garbage "preached," written, and taught; it is vital for us to become rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preserving Gospel Passion

NO! Not "simply" passion about witnessing, or holiness, or hell, or the authority of Scripture, or any of a zillion other things...but passionate about (and understanding and living out) the gospel!

Slowly read this from C. J. Mahanney:

I have learned a very important lesson over the years: those I have the privilege to teach are not usually most affected by the general content of my teaching; they are often most affected by what I am most passionate about. 

I am still learning this, and it’s all too easy to forget.

When I teach, my passion must be theologically informed, and proportional to the content or point I am making in the sermon. This insight is not original with me (no insights are original with me!), and I have found this point better articulated by Dr. Don Carson in a lecture he delivered last year at the CBMW Different by Design Conference (Feb. 2, 2009, Minneapolis, MN). While speaking of those who are passionate for social justice, he delivered this caution:

There are some wonderful instances of ordinary Christians, not least the young, who are concerned to preach the whole gospel unabashedly and do good first to the household of God and then, as much as is possible, outside as well [Galatians 6:10]. That has got biblical mandate behind it.…

My warning would be to those who are coming along and talking a lot about, “I want to be faithful to the gospel, but I also want to do social justice of good works.” My warning would be: it is not just what you do, it is what you are excited about.

And the implications are broader than social justice. All manner of topics can capture our excitement, like church methodology, parenting style, or any other point of application. Carson continues,

If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.

If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.

Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow.

Seminary professors and preachers will transfer to others what they are most passionate about. And those we serve should see a difference between our passion for the gospel and our passion for other issues. It’s worth asking ourselves regularly: Is it clear to others that nothing excites me more than the gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Deut 29.29

"The workings of grace in the heart are utterly mysterious and unsearchable. We cannot explain why the word produces effects on one person in a congregation, and not upon another. We cannot explain why, in some cases–with every possible advantage, and in spite of every entreaty–people reject the word, and continue dead in trespasses and sins. We cannot explain why in other cases–with every possible difficulty, and with no encouragement–people are born again, and become decided Christians. We cannot define the manner in which the Spirit of God conveys life to a soul, and the exact process by which a believer receives a new nature. All these are hidden things to us. We see certain results, but we can go no further. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]"
~ J.C. Ryle

Friday, March 25, 2011

Great, Timely Insight from Spurgeon

I need to constantly be reminded of these wise words from Charles Spurgeon:


“If you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words. Frequently you cannot convince a man by tugging at his reason, but you can persuade him by winning his affections” (Lectures to My Students, p. 280).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"When we become too glib in prayer we are most surely talking to ourselves." A. W. Tozer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Cross: Picture of God's _______

How you "fill in the blank" of the title "The Cross: Picture of God's _______" determines how you look on things like atonement, hell, wrath.

Most will put the word "love" in the blank...and it should be there...but should be followed by "hate."

Love of people. Hatred for sin.

A simultaneous portrait of His amazing love and the horribleness of sin.

It is "normal," (but not right) to get off balance on the love portrait. But to ignore, or be ignorant of, God's absolute holiness, and thus His hatred of sin, opens one to all kinds of error.

I look at the cross and, gratefully, I see His love (Romans 5.8). The very next verse reminds me that I am "...saved by Him from the wrath of God." That wrath should be poured out on me, but it is not...because it has been poured out on the Sacrificial Lamb.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sovereignty and Sanity

SCOTTY SMITH keeps cranking out phenomenal stuff. No, he doesn't crank; he reads, prays, trusts, and shares. Here are great insights regarding the absolute sovereignty of God:

     At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Daniel 4:34-35
     Almighty Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King, it’s the ongoing story of my heart. We’re never more sane than when we raise our eyes towards heaven and focus our attention on you. Navel gazing, circumstance watching and daily-news fixating never serve us well.

    Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion as the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; the world economy and temperature instability; earthquakes and oil leaks; multiplied conspiracies and conservative tea parties don’t affect your reign one micro-bit for one nanosecond.

     For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be any nervous sweat, furrowed brows or anxious pacing in heaven; not one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a plan B to emerge from the Big Boardroom.

     Father, you do as you please with the powers of heaven and the peoples of earth. I praise you for marshalling  the powers of heaven for the salvation of ill-deserving rebels like me and the ultimate transformation of the entire cosmos. Though many tried to hold back your hand; though many said “What are you doing?”, nevertheless, you chose the sacrifice of your Son and the “foolishness” of the cross, as the greatest demonstration of your sovereignty and grace.

     The only King who could say, “Behold the world I have made” is the only King who would say, “Behold the people for whom I die.” Father, the greatest sanity is gospel-sanity. Keep us sane, Father, keep us gospel-sane.

     We choose to lift our eyes to heaven today and fix our gaze on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and we cry with unfettered, unabated joy, “Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah what a salvation!” So very Amen, we pray, in the name and for the glory of the true King, Jesus.

Friday, March 18, 2011

G.O.S.P.E.L,

Jesus Didn't "Just" Die for our Sins

Is sin an inconvenience to God? Is my sin an "oops" that God takes lightly? Or is the Holy One furious at not "just" the consequences of sin, but furious at sin itself? Thought about that lately?

Did Jesus "just" die for us? Is dying really enough? Or did more happen on the cross (and "on" Jesus) than we hear about?

Willing to invest eight minutes to think through this? I pray so:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

And Tozer wrote this long before computers, cellphones, tweets, facebook, etc...

A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, follow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit; these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

A. W. Tozer

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I Believe

With all the ding-a-ling controversy; in case anyone cares, here is a summation of what I believe is the gospel. A couple years ago Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a great book, and this is directly from the book, as it sums up, with clarity, my conviction:


"The gospel, or good news of Jesus Christ, is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all His ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin.

"Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God.

"But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of His great love, sent His eternal Son, born by the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and a substitute for the sins of rebellious people.

"And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God and His willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following Him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in His sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God Himself." (emphasis added)

I understand that belief, in the words of the President of Fuller Seminary, labels me "misguided and toxic," but there I stand.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bell Gets Rung

Wow...an interviewer for MSNBC doesn't "play nice," he actually goes for the jugular! I've not seen this interviewer before...but I'm gonna start paying attention...his forthright, intelligent questioning causes me to wonder about his spiritual condition....but, regardless, here is an insightful interview with Rob Bell:

What the "heck"?

Unless you've been in an isolation cell, you are aware of the huge controversy surrounding Rob Bell and his new book. (For a lengthy review of the book, CLICK HERE)

I used to think homosexuality as sin was going to be the huge dividing line, but now I am convinced the dividing line between professing Christians is the exclusiveness of the Gospel and the reality of separation from God in a place that Jesus referred to as "hell." (although it intrigues me that the majority who side with Bell also dance on the issue of homosexuality)

Yet here is what the President of the world's largest Protestant seminary has written:

The real hellacious argument is between "generous orthodoxy and stingy orthodoxy. There are stingy people who just want to consign many others to hell and only a few to heaven and take delight in the idea. But Rob Bell allows for a lot of mystery in how Jesus reaches people."

Two observations:

1) "a lot of mystery" sounds suspiciously like the "gospel" according to Oprah who declares it is ridiculous to say there is only one way to heaven when "in fact there are many ways to whatever you consider god."

2) Like God, none who believe in "hell" should take any joy in the fact that people are going there. God "takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked." I can't "consign" anyone to hell (or heaven). As far as the word "few" is concerned, "wide is the road that leads to destruction and narrow the path that leads to eternal life and few there are that find it."


 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adopted!

As the Dad of two adopted children (as well as two the old-fashioned way!) this resonates...but, even more importantly, I'm adopted thanks to Jesus taking the hit for me:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pray Thirsty!

Another gem from SCOTTY SMITH


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2
Loving Jesus, there’s no craving more demanding than thirst. It’s neither patient nor polite. When we get thirsty, we’re usually quick to slake its unrelenting demand, one way or another. Thirst will not be denied. We’ll do almost anything to satisfy our thirst.

Because this is true, we join the Psalmist in crying out, “Jesus, intensify our thirst for you. Keep us panting like the deer which pants after streams of water—the unpolluted, undistilled, never-ending brooks of your bounty.
Quickly drain the broken-cisterns of our own making. Don’t let us be even momentarily satisfied with any other beverage than the draft you draw, the potion you pour, the life-giving libation you alone can give. 

If we take up King David’s lament, “When can I go and meet with God?”,  you answer back, without delay, “Right now, my beloved, do not wait. If you’re thirsty, come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

If we should say, “But Jesus, where can we find you?” You answer back even quicker, “Not in the Law; not in your strivings; not in your labors; not in your earnestness; not in your self-loathing’s; not in your vain promises, but only in the gospel. Come and fall into the rivers of my love. Stand under the cascading waterfalls of my grace. Open your heart wide to my supply and I will over-fill you with everything you need and more than you want.”

Even so and evermore, Jesus, school us well in pant-theology. Fill us afresh than we might be a people to the praise of your glory and grace. So very Amen, we pray, in your all glorious and all generous name.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

“If God gives you a watch, are you honoring Him more by asking Him what time it is or by simply consulting the watch?” Tozer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get Out The Boat!

Where have I been? Had not heard of (Rev) Jimmie Bratcher until I got invited to a meeting with him (that I don't think I can squeeze in)...but went to his website and found this...like blues and/or good musicians? Give it a watch and listen:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Amazingly Contemporary

J. C. Ryle died in 1900. Not sure when he penned the following...but it is amazingly contemporary and "spot-on" with some of the discussions going on today:
Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous. 

1) There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their "earnestness" makes many think they must be right.

2) There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

3) There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

4) There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

5) There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using. Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

6) There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

7) There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself "as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).

8) There is a wide-spread "gullibility" among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, "Do not be carried away!"
~ J.C. Ryle

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Truth Demands Confrontation

In view of allegations, cross-allegations, protestations, gee-why-can't-we-all-get-along-tions and so much more; these words are timely though written decades ago:

"Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation, regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. Just as what we may call holiness without love is not God's kind of holiness, so also what we may call love without holiness, is not God's kind of love...A false spirit of accommodation is sweeping the world as well as the Church, including those who claim the label of evangelical."

Francis A. Schaeffer

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

Yup, this is more than a "tidbit," but very important:

The Holy Spirit: The Ability to Do

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. --Luke 24:49

A definition of the word "power" means the ability to do. You know, because it is the Greek word from which our English word "dynamite" comes, some of the brethren try to make out that the Holy Spirit is dynamite, forgetting that they have the thing upside down. Dynamite was named after that Greek word, and the Holy Spirit and the power of God were not named after dynamite. Dynamite was discovered less than 200 years ago, but this Greek word from which we get our word "power" goes back to the time of Christ. It means "ability to do"-- that is all, just "ability to do."

One man picks up a violin and he gets nothing out of it but squeaks and raucous sounds. That man doesn't have the ability to do. Another man picks up the violin and he is soon playing beautiful, rich melodies. One man steps into the prize ring and can't even lift his hands. The other fellow walks in and he has power to do, and soon the fellow who did not have the abiltiy to do is sleeping peacefully on the floor.

It is the man with the ability to do who wins. It means the dynamic ability to be able to do what you are given to do. You will receive ability to do. It will come on you. The Counselor, 61-62.

"Again, Lord, help us to not be afraid of this all-important manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Come on our churches in power as we rely upon the Spirit for 'the ability to do' whatever You have called us to do. In fact, let me see Your power at work in my life even today. Amen."