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This is some ramblings about things I think about or portions of my study notes as part of my quiet time with God using "Study Notes" from e-Sword.



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May 30, 2010

Prodigal...

Luke 15:11-24 is a familiar parable about the man who had two sons.  The eldest of whose duties was to care for this father in old age and who would also be given a double portion of the inheritence for the extra responsibility and his younger brother.

The younger brother wanted to cash out early thinking he had a better way to run his life than under the shawdow of his father and elder brother.  He lived it up for a while until the money was gone and found himself destitute, feeding pigs and wishing he had as much to eat as they had.  

I heard this parabable explained at least a dozen times, usually very well.   I always put myself in the place of the elder brother, thinkin of myself as responsible and never going off on my own in wanton pleasure.

But this morning in church, though not covering this passage at all, it came to mind that really each one of us is that prodigal, even myself.  God is gracious to all in what we call common grace.  This usually refers to Matt 5:45 where He causes the rain to fall upon the evil and the good alike.   But there is much more that He does for us in common grace.   But each one of us is like the prodigal and we take the blessings bestowed upon us from God and go our own way in life with little thought to the sourcee of the blessings and what He desires.

The prodigal finally came to his senses and realized it was better to be a servant in the house of his father than to rule his own life as he had.   He made up his mind to go back to his father and say "I have sinned against Heaven and before you and am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. "

Did you catch that?  He admitted his sin both against his father and heaven, that is God.  He plead for mercy, if only to be treated as a servant.

As prodigals, we need to come to our senses ourselves and recognize the siitution we are in.  We may not be as poor as the prodigal was, but we are slaves to sin, whether it be to our passions, pride, or whatever, we are in rebellion to God.   But like the prodigal who realized his error, we can come  to the father in repentance and see the gracious response from God as the prodigal saw from his father.  

But until we do, we are still in a "far away land".   If the prodigal had not come to his senses,  the story would have had a very different ending.  He would have been lost forever and died in misery.  Have you "come to your senses" like the prodigal did?

May 23, 2010

God's "X" men:

I found this article interesting in brining a point in the history of Israel to life and a reflection of our times.
"My Spirit shall not always strive with man"  Gen  6:3 .   God repented of making man because of his sin and destroyed all but  Noah's family.
He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, those who forsook Him in the wilderness while Moses was on the mount, the land of Canaan when Joshua led Israel into the promised land, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem who delighted in sin in the passage referred to here in Ezekiel 9

We play lightly with the things of God and do not treat Him as Holy.  We must take heed and discern the times we live in.

Luk 18:7  And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them?
Luk 18:8  I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?


PASTOR LARRY DEBRUYN: DISCERNING “X-MEN”

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Marked for life: discernment ministry in light of Ezekiel 9:1-11.

Someone once said that sin is as much breaking God’s heart as it is His Law. When God looked down on the perversity of the people on earth before the Deluge, it was recorded that He “was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6b). When confronted by resident wickedness both without and within the professing church, Christians can manifest one of three reactions: approval (1 Corinthians 5:2), indifference (Zephaniah 1:12), or disapproval as indicated by the presence of either anger (Psalm 119:53) or grief (Psalm 119:136). So the question becomes, as we see the worldliness-wickedness invading the church, how do we feel about it? Are we agitated by, indifferent to, or accommodating of it?

Not unlike the society and church of our times, during Ezekiel’s ministry Judah found herself in a moral and spiritual “melt down.” Fraud, violence, adultery, and idolatry were running rampant amongst God’s chosen people. Idols had been set up in the Temple (Ezekiel 8:17; 9:9). From his location in Babylon, the Lord took Ezekiel on a virtual reality tour of the Temple, the place where on the Mercy Seat beneath the Cherubim, God’s Shekinah glory was to have been seated (Ezekiel 8:4). What he saw in that place of worship stunned the prophet. On his guided tour of the inner court, the Lord showed the prophet where first the people had substituted an idol image for Yahweh; where second, the elders worshiped animals; where third, the women sobbed over the death of Tammuz, a mythological fertility god who had married the Egyptian goddess Ishtar; and where fourth, the priests worshiped the sun (Ezekiel 8:5-18). Up-close and personal, the prophet saw how the nation had abominated into apostasy, how Israel had turned from worshiping the Creator to idolizing the creation and its creatures (See Romans 1:21-23.).

Yet in the midst of all those “alternative spiritualities,” and like the remnant of Elijah’s day who refused to bow their knee to Baal and kiss the idol god (1 Kings 19:18), some believers preserved themselves to be holy unto the Lord. So the Lord instructed the angel dressed in white to mark an “X” on the foreheads of the faithful, a mark that would spare them from the coming divine judgment (circa 600 BC).[1] Most have heard about “the mark of the beast”, the mark the deceived will receive at the end of the age, an identity without which they will neither be able to buy or sell (Revelation 14:9-12). The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a different mark, an “X” that was to be written on the foreheads of those in Judah who had refused to go along with the popular spiritual trends of that day. The “X” would spare them from the coming divine wrath. So the Lord instructed the angel: “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst” (Ezekiel 9:4). Pause with me . . . for a moment let’s project back to that era and ask ourselves the following question: If we had been alive in Ezekiel’s day, would the angel have marked us to be spared from divine judgment?

It was a remnant who strongly disapproved of the apostasy of the majority. In the words of the Lord, they groaned and sighed over the “abominations” (Ezekiel 8:6, 9, 13, 15, 17; 9:4) they saw being committed in the name of religion in their midst. What they saw sickened them to the core of their spiritual and emotional being. Would the angel have marked us if we had lived in that day? We should check out our feelings. Charles Feinberg observed: “Grief is always the portion of those who know the Lord in an evil day. The marked ones were penitent and faithful at a time of widespread departure from the will of the Lord.”[2] Another commentator adds that the criterion for receiving the mark was “an affair of the heart–a passionate concern for God and His people. Failing that, there was no mark . . .”[3]

Some in the mainstream Christian media have called those involved in discernment ministry “Christian attack dogs.”[4] Maybe a better metaphor-label would be “Christian guard dogs”! Discerners so love their Master (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ) and His Bride (i.e., the church) that they agonize to protect His truth and her purity.

Allow me to propose a litmus test as to whether or not we might have been marked in Ezekiel’s day. But before asking some questions, we should note the Apostle Peter’s warning: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1; Compare Matthew 7:13-15; Jude 17-19.). Based upon Peter’s prediction, does the worldliness that is invading the church bother us? (James 4:4) Does it concern us when we see churches being manipulated by the mechanics of church growth, when the end of growth justifies any means to achieve it? (2 Corinthians 2:17) Does it bother our souls to see the goal of growth eclipsing the Gospel, to see methods employed usurping the Message preached? (Romans 1:16) Does it grieve us to observe the church believing God’s truth less while enjoying “worship celebrations” more? (Matthew 15:8-9) Does the rampant immorality amongst professing evangelicals cause us to sigh? (1 Corinthians 5:2) Were you bothered a few years ago when one evangelical leader, who led a movement in his state to preserve the institution of traditional marriage, was cornered into admitting that he solicited sex from a male prostitute? (Jeremiah 23:14) Do false teachers with their strange and unbiblical teachings annoy you? (Revelation 2:2) Given our media age, does the development of the personality cults around evangelical leaders and speakers, where appearance and a schmoozing style trump substance, concern us? (1 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Peter 2:3; Jude 16) Are some of us even unaware that there are such critters as false teachers who stupefy their followers with their heretical teachings? (Romans 16:17) Does it upset us to see the Christian faith being publicly maligned for reason of the immoral behavior and unbiblical teachings prevalent amongst professing evangelicals? (2 Peter 2:2) In short, are we discerners? (Hebrews 5:14) If we are not, then we should not expect to be marked.

Well, you might be asking, how can we know whether or not a person is a false teacher? Through Jeremiah the Lord provided this description of false prophets: “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds” (Jeremiah 14:14). Of such prophets Jeremiah said that, “They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16b). Again, I ask you, do you know of any false prophets today? You may protest the question saying, “Well, I know men who speak for God who are true.” But that’s not the question. Do you know any false teachers? I know this is a discomforting question–but do you? If you don’t, I would say that you have a very grave problem . . . a very grave problem indeed. And it is this: You may not value God’s truth enough to know what it is and thereby be incapable of discerning “the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:4-6).

From his study of human history, a famous historian once remarked how he observed that the majority was seldom right. Jesus agreed. He said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.” He continued to say, “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” Then the Lord concluded: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15). Interesting, isn’t it . . . that the Lord warned the multitudes to watch out for false prophets in the very context in which He differentiated the way of the majority from the Way of the minority. Jesus knew that to their own destruction the majority will follow the way of the false prophets and teachers. They will not be marked out for salvation. They will not be “X-Men”. Like the compromisers of Ezekiel’s day, they went along to get along. So allow me to ask you again: Dear Reader, do you know of any false prophets around today, or are you living in denial, in “a spiritual never-never land”? Will you choose to remain unwarned by the very warning that Jesus and the rest of the prophets and apostles warned you about; mainly, that false prophets and teachers will arise who will lead multitudes to walk the broad way leading to destruction? Remember: Seldom is the majority right.

For any Christians concerned to discern, they may be comforted to know they’re taking the narrow Way. A spirit of discernment is symptomatic of true faith. The Lord’s sheep care, yes, even “sigh and groan” when they see fellow evangelicals lapsing into worldliness and ungodliness. Goats however, are unmoved (Matthew 25:31-46). Yet the caring can be comforted to know that their discernment evidences their solidarity with the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Being concerned to discern marks them out– “X” — as true believers (See 1 John 2:18-24.). Yet the overriding emotion of discernment ought to be that of grief. Yes, there may be a time for anger. God gets angry. He was with Ezekiel’s generation, so much so that after He had told the angel in white to mark the believing remnant, the Lord instructed the other six angels, “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Ezekiel 9:5b-6). Yet we must remember that, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

So it’s truly a sad day when we see those professing to know God believing and behaving as if they do not. So it’s significant to note that the divine judgment was to begin in the sanctuary and then work its way out through Jerusalem and the rest of the entire nation (Compare 1 Peter 4:17.). This order of judgment compelled Paul to command the congregation at Rome: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18, KJV). But if we are to engage in such marking, we ought to be reminded that the accompanying emotion ought to be one of grief. Yet we ought also to be reminded that in the end those who refuse to mark false teachers may not be marked by the Lord to be spared divine judgment

May 9, 2010

Contending for the faith once delivered...

Jude 1:3-4  Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.:4  For certain men crept in secretly, those having been of old previously written into this condemnation, ungodly ones perverting the grace of our God for unbridled lust, and denying the only Master, God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Paul writes to the Galatian church:  " I marvel that you so soon are being moved away from Him who called you into the grace of Christ, to another gospel, 7  which is not another, but some are troubling you, and desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ". Gal 1:6-7 

Some of you may know that I keep up with some online discernment ministries.  These are weary and persecuted soldiers of Christ willing to say what is needed to be said few are willing to do it.   People in the "church" will accuse them of "causing division" when in reality those who pervert the gospel of Christ are causing division. Those is the church are fed a diet less than milk and are no longer discerning but believe everything writen in the latest book or preached from pastors trained in corrupt seminaries.  Sola Scriptura (scriptures alone, as the source of of God's truth) that the reformers died for, is being dump for "doctrines of demons" which contradict scripture in the name of "Contemplative Spirituality".  This itself warmed over from "Desert Fathers" who got if from Buddist in the east.  Even Thomas Merton, a monk who helped revived this practice says he felt closer to Buddah than Christ. 

It is wearysome to read this and more wearysome to see it taking over the church body like undected cancer.  Those who would decern and speak out will soon, and already, are persecuted.  Rightly Jesus said "Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 

Over at the website "Apprising Ministries" an 3 part article by Gary Gilley is published on a new (latest) take on what the apostle Paul "really meant" in his epistles. Part of the opening here sums up my wearysome feelings:

The lovers of God’s truth can be excused if they seem to be a little “under the weather” lately, for everywhere we turn there are attacks on cardinal doctrines of the faith which most of us have considered secure and untouchable for years. Nathan Busenitz says it well,

It seems like just about every major doctrine of historic Christianity is currently under attack. Theology proper faces the Open-Theism debate; bibliology is still reeling from higher criticism; and pneumatology is split over the Charismatic question. For Christology the issue is the lordship of Christ; for anthropology it’s Christian psychology; and for ecclesiology it’s the Church-growth movement.[1]

Not even the gospel is safe from attacks by those who claim to be part of the church. As a matter of fact, the foremost battle being waged at this moment is over soteriological issues. Emergent church leaders are in the forefront of this battle as they slice, dice, rearrange, deny and undercut the gospel message as found in Scripture.[2] Emergent church leaders fight this battle largely on the popular front, but underpinning their views is the theological framework of what has been termed “The New Perspective on Paul” (NPP).

I do believe this is part of the great apostasy the Bible speaks of  before the rapture, the return of Christ for His church and the times of tribulation that will follow.  If not for a few good men who spoke up over a century ago llike J. Gresham Machom and Charles Hadden Spurgeon, Christianity in America would have been as it is in Europe.  But they are gone and few are willing to replace them today.  Hats off to relatively unknows like Ken Siva, Phil Johnson, Gary Gilley, Ingrid Schlueter and more who join a more familiar name like John MacArthur.

April 4, 2010

He is Risen! Have a blesses Ressurection Day!

Jesus told His disciples:
 
Mat 20:18-19  Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death. 19  And they shall deliver Him to the nations to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He shall rise again.
 
From what I could find, Jesus, his disciples and even his enemies mention His amazing prophetic words at least 12 times.  And it happened just as He said!
 
This is why we have hope that our sins are forgiven, The Paschal Lamb, once and for all, was sacrificed for our sins that the judgement of God would passover all who trust in His shed blood.   This is the gospel.  This is our hope.  It is confirmed by God by raising Jesus from the dead.  In this we have hope and rejoice exceedingly!
 
The Apostle Paul says if Christ were not raised we would still be dead in our sins and if we have hope in Christ in this life only we are men most to be pitied.
 
Celebrate His resurrection!  If you haven't trusted in the Savior's sacrifice for you, don't delay!  Trust Him today

January 24, 2010

"To Save a Life"   Is a new movie our family watched today.  It was excellent and I recommend this to everyone.  I don't know that I ever did this before, but I will for this.  It is very well written and even my kids thought is was extremely well done and they are tough critics.  Kyle was waiting for some "ouch" moments that never happened, that often happens with movies that have a Christian theme.

The movie is about a popular kid in high school who was strongly affected by the suicide of a boyhood friend who had saved his life in 6th grade but cost that boy a limp and alienation.   The popular boy Jake felt responsible as his friends shuned the other boy and pulled him away.  They parted ways for 3 years.  Now Jake searches for meaning of life beyond basketball and partying and the need to care for those on the fringes.  He takes a serious look at Christianity but is put off by the superficality he sees.  But in the end comes to Christ and changes his youth group into a truly loving comunity.  He make a differnce in the life of another marginalized boy who would have committed suicide if not for Jake.   Jake struggle with a home life falling apart in the midst of finding new life.  

I can't recommend it more highly.   If you are reading this after it is no longer in theatures, rent the DVD!

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!

How can 2009 be over yet!  As a kid I couldn't imagine the world of 2000 yet alone what I would look like or be.  Now it is ten years in the past!  By the way where is my "George Jetson" flying car?  (see Flying Car

On November 28 Lake Robinson Radio AM 1610 officially went on the air rebroadcasting VCY America.org programming.  WVCY started in the 70's? as "Voice of Christian Youth" by a Youth for Christ leader named Vic Elliason and has grown to a network of radio stations primarily in the midwest and a TV statioin in Milwaukee.  They are committed to Biblical programming and reaching people for Christ.  They have been a blessing to me and I miss them much.  Now they are on the air in a tiny area in South Carolina (about 1 mile radius give or take a half mile) from the north shore of Lake Robinson between Hartsville and McBee SC.

I also add some spot announcements, putting in content from other ministries and will hopefully add my own program for young (in the Lord) christians in 2010.

This mornings devotions from Jer 37 gave a promise for the future of the people of Israel:  

Jer 31:1  At that time, says Jehovah, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. 

In Romans 11:26 Paul talks about events after the "blindness in part" (vs 25) of the Jews is complete when the "fullness of the nations has come in".  Specifically that Israel will be saved and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.  This is also the time when they shall "look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him..." Zech 12:10 and referenced in Rev 1:7 as yet future.

When the Millenial Kingdom is established, Israel will be saved and God will be the God of all the families of Israel.
"Even so, come Lord Jesus" Rev 22:20

Will 2010 be the year the Lord returns?  Those who have Hope look forward to His coming.   Do you look forward to it?  If not are you trusting Him only for your salvation?  Those who do have this hope.  Please go to my home page and click on "How someone can be saved" link on the left side.  Or go to the "Living Waters" link.  

The Bible says "  Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness... (Hebrews 3:7-8)   It says the deceitfulness of sin hardens our heart to God and His wrath is building up for the day of Judgment.  But He is a merciful God.  Repent and call upon His name for fogiveness of sin and everlasting life.

God's blessings upon you in this new year!

October 11, 2009

I am back!
This past couple years have been times for change.  We moved to South Carolina for my job but knew that God's hand was upon us and telling us to get out of our comfort zone.  It has been worthwhile with many new things learned and a deepening of our family and faith.  A new ministry adventure will be starting soon with a low power AM radio for reaching my neighborhood for Christ.  This will be an act of faith to get listeners, but that will be a matter of prayer and God's miraculous answers.  Most of the content will be rebroadcasted, but I hope to add my own programming to get the neighbors to know this is for them. 
Please pray that this would be an effective outreach.  More to come...


Postmoderism in the Emergent Church
This is a quote from John MacArthur on the emergent church:

"Postmodernism says, “We give; there may be truth, but we can’t know it. We didn’t get it in our pre-modernism, we didn’t get it modernism.” So this is the after-the-fact, and the answer is, there might be truth–some people would say there is no universal truth–there is no absolute truth; but not all postmodernism would say that, postmodernism will at least say, “we can’t know it. We can’t know what it is; it may be from God, but we can’t know what it is. So we embrace mystery.”

Postmodernism says, “You have your truth, I have my truth, everybody has his own truth. Truth is whatever you think it is, whatever you want it to be; it’s intuitive, it’s experiential. But it’s not universal, and it’s not knowable–universally knowable."

John MacArthur


"So we embrace mystery"  This is where contemplative "prayer" (read Transcendental Meditation or hearing from demons) tells people like "Pastor" Jay Bakker (a.k.a. son of Jim and Tammy Faye) that "I think that God is telling me that homosexuality is okay".

If we can't know the truth, what is to say he is wrong?

The Emergent church is rejecting "Sola Scriptura", Luther's cry starting the reformation that scripture alone is our source of faith and morals.  It is knowable and that is why God gave us His Word.

Isaiah 8:19-20  And when they shall say to you, Seek to the mediums and to wizards who peep and mutter; should not a people seek to their God, than for the living to the dead? 20  To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because no light is in them.




June 20, 2007

The Lamb deserves the reward of His sufferings:

From my daily study in scripture and the film "Revival Hymn"

Isa 60:21

the branch of My planting, the work of My hands,...

This is the work that Jehovah will bring about, ending their mourning (vs 20)making the people righteous and inheriting the land forever.  This cannot be done through man's effort.  Our best attempts are gone in a generation or two.  Only God will built an everlasting kingdom free from sin and death when He comes in judgement and vanquishes His foes. 

... so that I may be glorified.
The reason He will do this is for His Glory.  I watched a film with a number of audio clips from great men of the last century; I don't know who said it but he was a missionary to Africa who though had the best of intentions found out they were indeed humanism.  He didn't want to see people lost or living apart from God.  But he found people who loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil (Joh_3:19).  Wanting to quit he cried out to God and when he listened, he heard the witness of God's Spirit as a voice rejecting his motive but affirming God's. 
"The Lamb of God deserves the rewards of His suffering."   Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem lost sinners.  He deserves His reward:  Redeeemed lost sinners!

Pray therefore to the Lord of the Harvest that He may send laborers into the harvest. (Luk_10:12)

We wish to make everything about us; God made everything for Him.


May 13, 2007

Mother's day:
This Mother's day I would like to honor two women in my life who are special to me.  My Mom and the Mom of my children. Friday and Saturday we had a brief time with my parents visiting and helping to pack.  They are leaving my childhood home for a place much better suited to their current needs.  It was fun to sort and look through stuff from years "way" gone by but I am sure for my Mom it doesn't seem so long ago.  She has held on to some things we have long forgot and beamed with joy to see them.  We laughed and remember how we used to look.
It must have been hard having 5 kids so close in age but she did her best to make a shoestring bug stretch and stretch.  Today I want them to enjoy what they have, but it seems their children and grandchildren is what they cherish the most.  Happy Mother's day Mom.  I know you probably will not read this as you do not have a computer, but I wish you the best for all to read if anyone stumbles across this page.

For the Mom of my kids, my beloved wife I also which a joyous Mother's day.  We hope the weather stays nice to enjoy family time together outdoors.  Like my Mom,  Jannelle cherishes family time together and seems to be the catalyst for our times together.  She too is a special lady and sees things from a different perspective that graciously complements my own.  While I seemed called to complete my task list, she will seize the moment and make it special rather than letting it be trumped by the daily challenges of life.  I am so grateful to have had so many years together (22 so far).  I shed a tear Friday night as a you man sang "I will be here" by Stephen Curtis Chapman, the only song I ever sang solo at church (or for that matter anywhere but the shower) and that to her.  I am still here and plan to be as long as the Lord gives us time together.  May God richly bless you Jannelle!

Take time today (even if not Mother's day) to honor that special Mom you know or have.

His Only,
Tom
March 20, 2007

More Doctrinc in Hymns of Old...
There is more doctrine in some old hymns that in many modern evengelical sermons these days.  Some people avoid docrtine because it divides.  Without true doctrine to be unified around, we will all happily go together to Hell!  The truth is that God created us and in His unfathomable love, provided the only way to be saved from His wrath, the judgement of sins we committed against a holy God.


I was prompted in my spirit to find and read 2 Cor 3:18 this morning:    "But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit."  Doing a word study on face I looked up the Strongs definition:

G4383   πρόσωπον prosōpon pros'-o-pon
From G4314 and ὤψ ōps (the visage; from G3700); the front (as being towards view), that is, the countenance, aspect, appearance, surface; by implication presence, person: - (outward) appearance, X before, countenance, face, fashion, (men’s) person, presence.

The word visage reminded my of the hymn "O Sacred Head Now Wounded"  and remembered the use of the word "visage" and did not know what that meant.  It was refering to the countenance or face of our Lord and Savior Jesus.  It languished* under the sorrow of our sin at the cross:  Read slowly the words that follow:

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown; How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place; Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

The second verse contains the Gospel message NOT preached in "Positive, Upbeat" churches today who are afraid or the bitter reality of true Gospel, they rather tickle the ears of their flock to grow larger and more popular.

"Mine, mine was the transgression"  The repetition forces emphasis on the second "mine"  as to almost shout.  Mine sin put Him their!  My sin put the nails in His hands and feet.  My sin put the thorns through His brow.  My sin caused the Father to look away and leave our savior to face the wrath.  I SHOULD HAVE HAD THIS PUNISHMENT! 

What response should that provoke in us?  "Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place; Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace".

It is godly sorrow that leads to repentance.   2 Cor 7:10  With this in mind I can't imagine a conversion of the heart in great sorrow and tears!   Does this sound like the Gospel taught in your church?  It is the Gospel of the Bible and Bernard of Clairvaux understood this in 1153. (http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/s/osacredh.htm)

We can learn a lot from those old hymns.  Jesus has not changed the Gospel since He was lifted up into the clouds, neither should we.

* Websters 1828 Dictionary "4. To pine or sink under sorrow or any continued passion;"


Nov 28, 2006

The Offensive Gospel take II
Today's reading from Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest" shows how the Gospel is offensive to one's pride:

" The Gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the revelation which it brings is not palatable. There is a certain pride in man that will give and give, but to come and accept is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom, I will give myself in consecration, I will do anything, but do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest blessing spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there Our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are sufficient of ourselves, we have to enter into His Kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are rich, possessed of anything in the way of pride or independence, God cannot do anything for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is made effectual in us by the Holy Spirit, He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, which puts "the beyond" within, and immediately "the beyond" has come within, it rises up to "the above," and we are lifted into the domain where Jesus lives."

I remember back in 1977 when I questioned how could salvation be that simple?  I worked hard to be good and do all the stuff I thought would please God, and none of that mattered? 
"But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ "  Phil 3:8

Paul was talking about his religious life before his encounter with Jesus.  He was quickly climbing the ranks of the religious clergy in his zeal.  He was very sincere but dead wrong on the person of Jesus Christ.  God mercifully humbled Paul and open his eyes to the truth.  The truth of his own depravity before God.  It did not matter what man thought of him, before God he was a wretched sinner as we all are.  We all deserve the wrath of God, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved)... Eph 2:4, 5


Nov 26, 2006

The Offensive Gospel
Rom 9:33  as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a Stumbling-stone and a Rock-of-offense, and everyone believing on Him shall not be put to shame."

Last night I was reading in chapter 5 of Bob DeWaay's book "Redefining Christianity", a book primarily debunking "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren.  The contrast he made was between the biblical gospel which is an offensive gospel and a non-offensive gospel (which is not the gospel of Jesus) that is popularly preached today and received by the masses.  The first is God-centered, the second is man-centered.  The gospel of Rick Warren is based on his market research into non-churched persons "felt needs".  His conclusion ranks "purpose in life" as one of the chief needs and the lack thereof leads to many of the things that bring dissatisfaction in life.    According to this, finding ones purpose is in a relationship with God and to serve Him.  He says that God is desperate for our love , so much so that He died on the cross to prove it. (page 79 Purpose Driven Live [PDL])  Everyone who wants purpose in life needs only to "believe and receive" (page 58-59 PDL) to "enter the family of God, have the relation and the purpose.  Sounds noble enough, and most people accept this at face value.  But this is not what Jesus nor the Apostles taught and this doesn't sound like a Rock-of-Offense.

Jesus did not say "I love you this much!  I'd rather die than live without you" (page 79 PDL).  When facing the prospect of the cross in great agony in the Garden Jesus said "Take away this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will. " Mark 14:36  Our sin debt needed to be paid on the cross in order for God to truly be a just God.  This is why the Father sent Jesus.  When facing the task Jesus did not do it because he was  desperation to prove His love for us, He did it to obey the will of His Father.  Bob DeWaay compares Warren's idea to that of a man desperately trying to prove to an uninterested woman how much he loves her by doing something dramatic.  This is an altogether wrong view of the cross, it is also a unbiblical teaching about how people come to him.  Jesus says that people can only come to Him if the Father draws them to Himself. (John 6:335-37, 44, 65)  Jesus wasn't interested in being popular in fact turned many away that very day with His words.  If He was trying so hard to win them over, He failed miserably.  But that is not what He was doing, He was proclaiming the truth, and the truth was offensive and the result was:  "From this time many of His disciples went back into the things behind, and walked no more with Him. " (John 6:66)  There are several more example of how he turned away crowds and individuals away rather than catering to their felt needs.  His message was offensive, but it was the truth, it is part of the Gospel. 
The Gospel is offensive because it:  "commands all men everywhere to repent" Acts 17:30.  The 10 Commandments is God's law and we all have broken most if not all of it in deed or if not in deed in thought (see Matt 5).  We are sinners condemned by the law we have broken and we need to repent.  Most people like to compare themselves with others and think they are pretty good.  But we are not judged by that standard but by God's law.

The exclusive nature of the Gospel is offensive: 
"Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. "
Joh 14:6 
"And one said to Him, Lord, are the ones being saved few? And He said to them, Strive to enter in at the narrow gate. For I say to you, many will seek to enter in and shall not be able."
Luk 13:23,24 (see through verse 30, also Matt 7:13-14)

The popular view that "all roads lead to God" is held by people today in ignorance of scriptural teaching.  "You mean God will send people to hell who are sincerely following there religion?"  Yes, the Bible says so.  Even some that seek Him shall not be able to enter as we saw in the previous paragraph.   This is extremely offensive to many. I admit is is hard for me to accept, but I didn't make the rules.   Many will dismiss God and the bible over this issue, and do so to their peril.

The Gospel is offensive because it declares we are all under the wrath of God because of our sin unless we repent (declare our guilt before God and turn from our sins).  Jesus himself said "He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him."  John 3:36  The apostle Paul adds:
"Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  But according to your hardness and your impenitent heart, do you treasure up wrath for yourself in a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Romans 2:4,5  No one today wants to talk about a wrathful God. "Why would anyone want to serve that kind of God".  People rather make up their own kind of image about God and Jesus that is nice, that will overlook sin and let everyone into heaven except for some REALLY bad people.  God talks about people fashioning gods from wood and stone as idols and the 2nd Commandment condemns this.  It is no different than fashioning a god from our own imagination (Acts 17:9) about what God is like.  If we don't want to believe what God has revealed to us about Himself, we will end up fashioning an idol.

God made the terms for how we are to come to them and He revealed them in His word, the Bible.  Appealing to felt needs of unbelievers is not the gospel.  How then do we reach our family,  friends, neighbors and coworkers for Christ?  The "Living Waters" link to the left is a useful resource for how to present the gospel.   But how do we take that first step?  Many  people don't want to talk about it.  It is uncomfortable,  is is offensive as we have seen, many are disinterested or have their own beliefs.  Some can be quite nasty if you bring up the subject and others dismiss you out of hand as "one of those ______ (fill in the blank)".  I wish I had the answer for this.  One thing we can do is pray that God would work in their hearts and draw them to Himself.  We are commanded by Jesus to pray that the Lord of the Harvest woudl send workers into thd harvest, but these workers face the same question.  Jesus said to "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven" Matt 5:16.  We can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who do not believe to draw them and be available to share.  I wish God put a big red tag on the persons who wanted to hear the gospel, but He doesn't.  It is our job to preach it.  We may be hated and despised like Paul and the other disciples and countless Christians throughout the ages, but that's what it may take to be obedient.  "...but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. But to them, the called-out ones, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God."  I Cor 1:23-24

"Lord loose my tongue to proclaim the 'Good News' of the gospel."

Nov 20, 2006

Faithful to death
Isa 51:7  ...whose heart is My Law;...

This whole section of Isaiah starting with verse 1 is directed towards those who "pursue righteousness, and seek Jehovah" and who know rigtheousness, in whose heart is My Law (See Jer_31:31-34).  These are the ones who care deeply for the Words of God, to obey them and to follow God's ways.  
And what word of encouragement does God have for them?  "do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings".  In the next verse He says what will be the end for those who persecute, but His salvation is forever.

Persecution will come to those who love the Lord and are willing to take a stand for righteousness.
(Mat_5:10-12, Mat_10:23, Luk_11:49, Luk_21:12, Joh_15:20-21, Rom_12:14, 2Ti_3:12)

The Word of God is under attack today again.  It always is by those who hate God, but from time to time it is ignored, watered down, questions "hath the Lord really said..."  or rewritten to soot the fancy of mens wisdom.  This is even done in the name of the gospel.

I heard people talk about others as being "so heavenly minded they were of no earthly good".  But today it seems to be just the opposite, we are so "earthly minded that we are of no heavenly good". 

We must fix our love and hope in the God of heaven who revealed himself in His written Word.   We must love the things that He loves.  It starts with truth, righteousness, love and compassion that leads to action.  The first two cannot be ignored to the exclusion of the latter, nor can the latter to the exclusion of the first two.

But when we take a stand on the Word of God and proclaim "Thus sayeth the Lord" (reading directly from His Word of course)  we will be targeted as "narrow minded", "heartless", "mean spirited" and in the case of speaking out on the sin of homosexuality "homophobes".

This last issue has become a politcal hot potatoe with polical correctness forming the culture of intolerence of those who are intolerent, or its okay to believe and accept anything except a position that rejects something as morally wrong.   There is no more room for "Thus sayeth the Lord" so persecution is coming to those who do.  But the message of Isaiah is "do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings".  Jesus said:  "Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life."  (Rev_2:10) Lord help us to remain faithful to the end. 


November 11, 2006

God's power is in God's method
A century or so ago these words were penned:

 “When we preach the historic facts of the life and death of Our Lord as they are conveyed in the New Testament, our words are made sacramental, God uses them on the ground of His Redemption to create in those who listen that which is not created otherwise. If we preach the effects of Redemption in human life instead of the revelation regarding Jesus, the result in those who listen is not new birth, but refined spiritual culture, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in another domain. We have to see that we are in such living sympathy with God that as we proclaim His truth He can create in souls the things which He alone can do.” Oswald Chamber, from “My Utmost for His Highest” 11/9

 In “marketing” the church to the world today we have forgotten the supernatural power that can only accomplish the work of Redemption.  The Apostle Paul said “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom did not know God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.” I Cor 1:21

 We so do not wish to look foolish in the eyes of the world that we dare appeal to man’s felt needs to try to convince him the Christian way of life is what he needs.  He doesn’t need a new way of life, he needs NEW LIFE.  We can not give that to him, only God can give that to him.  God told us the way He wanted to get the message out, “by the foolishness of preaching”.   Any other appeal misses the mark entirely.  Do we want people to have a “refined spiritual culture” or new life, the life of Christ?


September 4, 2006

John The Baptist:  Uncompromised Messenger

(From Adam Clarke’s Commentary)

Mat 11:8

A man clothed in soft raiment? - A second excellency in John was, his sober and mortified life. A preacher of the Gospel should have nothing about him which savours of effeminacy and worldly pomp: he is awfully mistaken who thinks to prevail on the world to hear him and receive the truth, by conforming himself to its fashions and manners. Excepting the mere color of his clothes, we can scarcely now distinguish a preacher of the Gospel, whether in the establishment of the country, or out of it, from the merest worldly man. Ruffles, powder, and fribble seem universally to prevail. Thus the Church and the world begin to shake hands, the latter still retaining its enmity to God. How can those who profess to preach the doctrine of the cross act in this way? Is not a worldly-minded preacher, in the most peculiar sense, an abomination in the eyes of the Lord?

Are in kings’ houses - A third excellency in John was, he did not affect high things. He was contented to live in the desert, and to announce the solemn and severe truths of his doctrine to the simple inhabitants of the country. Let it be well observed, that the preacher who conforms to the world in his clothing, is never in his element but when he is frequenting the houses and tables of the rich and great.


But to what shall I compare to this generation?
(Matt 11: 16)
Our Lord goes on to compare it with children whose attitude is that no game is any good.  They find fault with this and that and do not wish to participate.  This whole chapter of Matthew 11 is a fascinating story with this verse as the crux.  The John was drew their attention but his message and life were too harsh.  Jesus comes with a softer tone to his message and his life was less austere and they are put off with that. Miracles are performed in abundance in their presence and they still find fault.  Nothing pleases them.

 Many today are like those of this generation in our gospel soaked nation.  They find fault with the “harsh God” of the old Testament, but they know not of the tender/patient God he really is.  They like Jesus nice words but reject his exclusivity (I am the Way, The Truth, The Light, no one comes to the Father except by Me”) and know not of his harsh teachings and woes even in this chapter.  No nothing satisfies.  They sit in smug judgment of the Bible, the “light”, little realizing that they will be judged based on the basis of the light they have been given. 

 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the powerful acts which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes!  But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.   And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to the heaven, shall be brought down to hell.  For if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.  Matt 11:21-24

 God has blessed our nation with founders of whom many were preachers of the Gospel.  The freedom of speech and to worship was fundamental in their thinking that nothing would inhibit the gospel. But though it is freely available, it is rejected with smugness.  A lady I met on a plain had every reason not to believe what the Bible clearly taught, but instead preferred a righteousness of her own.  Hers was superior in her own mind to that of her creator; superior to that of the only one who could save her.  Instead of bringing about repentance the light she was given brought about indifference and unbelief.

             “But to what shall I compare this generation?”

 August 20, 2006

The Cooperative Rebel

Jim Berg’s book “Changed into His Image”,( the title of which is taken from Romans 8:29)  talks in chapter 3 about rebellion that is at its root is caused from our sin nature we were born with.  He mentions several kinds.  We all think of what he terms the “Assertive Rebel” who is openly defiant, and has tended to become embraced by our culture as the independent spirit.   But the same underlying sin nature causes another type of Rebel he calls the “Cooperative Rebel”.  Jim writes:

Another type of cooperative rebel appears to be driven by a sense of duty: as a child he is often called a “really good kid,” seems to go out of his way to be helpful, never seems to be a problem, is sometimes perfectionistic and legalistic, and thinks, “I’;; do my best because I have learned that life works best this way” or “I’ll do my best because I like the image of being a great kid.”  Perhaps he has often seen a brother or sister who is an assertive rebel resisted by authority and doesn’t want the hassle.  He may even enjoy the limelight he gets when other compare him to his rebellious brother or sister.

Surprising as it may seem, there are many of us who really try to be good, not because we are allowing God to work in our lives to produce His fruit, but because it seems that life has fewer snags when we stay out of trouble.  We often achieve the accolades and image we want.  We can become smug around others who aren’t doing right and can become easily embittered during the times when we are being good and don’t get what we want.1

Jim goes on to quote C.S. Lewis

            If you are a nice person-if virtue comes easily to you—beware!  Much is expected from those to whom much is given.  If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you though nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel:  and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, you bad example more disastrous.  The Devil was an archangel once: his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee. 2

These words pierced me and described the heart of much of my motivation, to be nice because it works and “life has fewer snags”.  This leads to pride and as Lewis put it “your fall more terrible”. 

What is the answer to this? In Luke 18:9-14.  Jesus tells a parable of two men, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector (really bad sinner in those days).  The Pharisee rejoiced in his ability to keep the law in his prayer to God, the other realized his sinfulness and pleaded for mercy for the only one who could help him.   For the one to whom living virtuously comes easy, we much remember the words of John Bradford: "But for the Grace of God, there go I."  We must recognize the rebel within us, the pride that thinks we can live up to God’s standard by our own natural strength and will. Throw yourself on the mercy of God.  Let him examine you (Psalm 139:23,24) and let His righteousness live through you.  Let him break your heart to see things as He does.  How can we do that?  Get in God’s Word everyday, pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit would make it clear to you, and then obey what God tells you through His Word.  Do not sit and judge God’s Word, let it be your judge.

 1 “Changed into His Image”  Jim Berg,  Page 52, 53
2 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 180-181


From my Quiet time today:

 Isa 45:18-22  For so says Jehovah the Creator of the heavens, He is God, forming the earth and making it; He makes it stand, not creating it empty, but forming it to be inhabited. I am Jehovah, and there is no other.  19  I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek me in vain. I Jehovah speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.  20  Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the nations; those who set up the wood of their graven image, and those that pray to a god that cannot save. They know nothing.

 21  Declare and bring near; yea, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this of old? Who has told it from then? Is it not I, Jehovah? And there is no other God besides Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.   22  Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

 The appeal in this chapter is to all nations to see the folly in what they worship and trust in.  Jehovah is God and there is NO ONE else.  He declares the end from the beginning and even uses the heathen Kings (Cyrus, King of Persia) for His purposes.   Salvation is found in no other.  When Isaiah wrote this the Nation of Israel had not yet been hauled away into captivity in Babylon yet were they were to remain for 70 years before Cyrus would defeat them and return Israel to it land. 

 All other religions, believes, philosophies only deceive people from believing in the True God so as to be saved.  This is Satan's plan, let them believe in ANYTHING but the real deal and he will steal their soul.

 The gospel is exclusive.  In a day of tolerance reigning supreme, all beliefs are accepted with the exception of Biblical Christianity which is does not tolerate the "all paths lead to God" mentality.  For that true believers who speak the truth will be persecuted more and more.  But those who know this truth must have "your loins girded about with truth" Eph_6:14 and make up you mind resolutely who you will serve as Joshua did .

 And if it seems evil to you to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served Beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah. Jos_24:15. 

 While it would be wonderful to think that all people who are reasonably nice, who follow their heart and "do what is right in there own eyes" will eventually lead them to God and heaven, the Bible does not allow us the luxury to say such things.  To not warn such people is "love" them away from God.

  "there is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their own filth" Pro_30:12.

May we wake up and come to God on His terms rather than acting as gods ourselves and allowing Him in to our lives if it suits our needs. 

August 9, 2006
I knew my birthday was this week, but I didn’t think it was today until I got an e-card from an old friend.  Although age 47 is not regarded as a significant milestone, each one reminds me that my life is finite and there is more to look back on then forward too (unless I live to be as old as my Grandma Colle who died at 103!) and I already have some regrets.  I am learning from these and want to make the corrections now before I waste anymore years.

I just read a brief philosophy of the man who wrote “Rich Dad, poor Dad” and how the honest hard working but financially ignorant Christian man died leaving debts to his family while the rich worldly self-made man became the riches man in Hawaii. This guy writes for Yahoo finance and decided to follow his rich dad’s advice and he in turn became rich.  I disturb me how he downplayed the values of his poor dad and the only “Christian” advice he remembered is “God helps those who help themselves” (not a Bible quote). He said the only difference between God and Gold is the “l” and the “l” stands for lazy.  While I do feel hard work and investing wisely is Biblical, I couldn’t help but think of the verse “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mat 16:26  This man has found what he sought but what good will it do him in 50 years? 

There is nothing sacred in being poor but there is great value in being “poor in spirit”.  In having a humble and dependant spirit who knows each breath is in the hand of his maker “…but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb 4:13.
My Dad (earthly) taught me about money too.  He prayed to God as a young man, not to be rich but to be able to pay his bills.  He knew riches can steal the soul if you let your guard down.  God honored that prayer. He is not rich but he has always paid the bills.  My other Dad (heavenly) taught me “Mat 6:19  Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”  I have a lot to learn yet from my Heavenly Dad about this, but I feel more a sense of urgency about it as I get older. As for this world, David (the King not my Dad) said “I have been young, and am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread” Psa 37:25 

August 6, 2006

Today's sermon by Pastor Sam Horn was on Eph 3:10  " so that now to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God"

Paul packs a lot in some of his sentences and this is no exception.  Pastor Horn did a great job of unpacking it.  Basically this verse is saying that God wanted to reveal His manifold wisdom to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies, all the angles of every ranks good and bad and he choose of all things the church in which to do it.  How else could God demonstrate His goodness, His holiness and also his mercy grace, justice and love.  Only by taking sinful man and redeeming them and giving them a new nature, that of Christ's could He do this!  That is the wisdom which seems so counterintuitive.
Below is a quote from the JFB commentary that explains that the church is like the actors in the theater and the angels are the audience, watching carefully the unfolding of the drama.
 Yet when we see the church not in its shining glory, but like the church of Corinth that Paul wrote to, we wonder how is God to be revealing His wisdom.  Pastor admonished us that as a church we get worship, we understand the need to reach the lost, we get the importance of doctrine, but we don't get is our relating to each other.  Where there is gossip, complaining, backbiting, unforgiveness, nit-picking, how do we make know the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God.  
Pastor mentioned the story of the postal carrier James Todd who carried the Hope diamond mailed, yes mailed to the Smithsonian in a plain box wrapped in brown paper.   God's manifold wisdom shines like that diamond and he entrusted it to us to contain it.  Are w going to let it shine or left stuck in the dark of pettiness of our lives.   
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us; 2Co_4:7"
We are commanded by God to live Holy as He is Holy to demonstrate His manifold wisdom!  This means living a holy life on the horizontal plain of our relationships with each other and in the world.  Not only are Angels looking on with fascination, but so is a skeptical world.  They are looking for excuses not to believe.  When we live ungodly live before them we provide them with every excuse.  We love as Jesus did, the will see our lights shine and give glory to God.

July 22, 2006
I commend a former Elder of mine for reviewing the material on my website.  He did challenge a paragraph on the website that he was directly involved in regarding Jr. High.  After reviewing the material I wrote, based mostly on input from my daughter, I realized that I had my title wrong and was misleading.  I also pressed my daughter a bit on some of the issues and realized that though she had some real issues, I did not do due diligence to follow up on these things with the parties involved and so I have removed them from my website under the advice of my former Elder.  I do want to keep things correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  I thank this dear friend for his comments and advice.  We are still brothers and working to build the kingdom.

On a different subject, I have continued my re-reading of "The Seduction of Christianity" by Dave Hunt after a few weeks break.  I had loaned it out.  I first read this back in the late 1980's and wondered how any of this could affect the evangelical churches I have attended.  It is interesting now to see how a lot of it has happened.  Our culture has changed as we have entered  Post-Modernism.  Out has gone absolute truth and the spirit of "your truth works for you, my truth works for me" is a logical absurdity that is wholeheartedly embraced.  It is infiltrating the church.  Churches that resign themselves that this is the state of our culture, try to work within that framework, rather than confronting the lie head on.  This changes the meaning of the word "truth"  Logic dictates that if one thing is true and another thing is different, it cannot also be true.  Either one is true or the other.  This is the law of non-contradiction.  While post-modernist reject that law it is still fundamentally true and we are forced to live in a world that is under that law.  You cannot both have your cake and eat it too.  Jesus says "I am the way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father accept by me" John 14:6.   We must heed the words of Jesus, the Truth.  People want to call him a prophet, a good man, a teacher even a guru, but He is not a just a man, He is God the Son.  He speaks the Truth as He heard it from His Father.  John 14:21.  He didn't allow us the luxury of coming up with our own truth.  After challenging his disciples that they were to beware of false prophets that would come in sheep's clothing and that not everyone who says to Him "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of Heaven, he challenges them that they are to hear His words and DO them. Mark 7:26.

When we reach out to people with the message of the Gospel, we need to remember to speak the Truth in love.  Sometimes that truth will hurt and offend, but so does the surgeons knife that cuts out the infection that would kill.  Better to tell them up front and have them wrestle with it than to let them remain diluted into thinking they are following God when they want to follow a god of their own making. 

Another aspect is the redefining the words of scripture to mean something completely different than what they ever meant before.  While this used to be confined to the cults, it is pervasive in the writings of many in the church today.  I have too often supplied the correct definitions to things I have heard when the author meant something different.  This happened with some Mormon missionaries once.  They use Christian terms but have different meanings for them.  So it alls sounds good until you pry under the surface and ask what they mean by Jesus, atonement, sin, created etc.  We need to be diligent to find out what people mean by the Christian terms they use.  Another aspect of this is to use "new words" that are not so biblical because they might offend.  So substitute words are used.  I try to figure out what the real biblical word that it is being substituted for and can follow along, but how does the biblically illiterate know what it really means?  If biblical terms sound strange to modern ears then they need to be re-introduced with complete biblical explanations, otherwise we can be causing confusion and keep people in the dark.

Well I am rambling now so I will stop for now.  The best thing I can encourage the few that will read this is to dig deep into scripture and wrestle before God with it.  Let the Holy Spirit convict you of its meaning and truth.  If you don't know how to study the bible there are many good resources for doing this.  But above all, read the word in the context of sentences that surround them.  Remember that "text without context is pre-text".



July 12, 2006
Today's entry in Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest included a comment in the second sentence that speaks to today's church.  It was written about a hundred years ago now but is up to date.  "The church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization".  This devotion closes with a quote from an unknown source (at least to me) that is a challenge for us all.  Enjoy!





THE SPIRITUAL SOCIETY


"Till we all come . . unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ's plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose - that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.

Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ - "That I may know Him." To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

"My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God."

Am I measuring my life by this standard or by anything less?

July 4, 2006

From my quiet time:
Isa 43:25

I am He who blots out your sins for My own sake...
July 4, 2006 (USA independence day)

The Lord has freed us from our sin that we may no longer be slaves to it (Rom_6:18).  That is we have gained independence from sin but we are now DEPENDANT upon righteousness (i.e. slaves of righteousness).   We are dependent upon the righteousness of Christ and his work on the cross.
Notice for whose sake He does this; "for My own sake".  God keeps His promises.  Despite Israel’s waywardness, He chose them to be the nation to bear witness of Him (vs 12).  He does it to show the His character of mercy.  He is showing that although they do not deserve forgiveness, yet He still forgives.  None of us deserve His forgiveness (vss 24, 26 &  27), that is why it is mercy, that it why it is grace (undeserved merit).

As a nation we are like Israel who "wearied Me with your iniquities" (vs 24).  Should God bless America this independence day?

God is a Holy God (vs 15)  He is our creator and King. Oh that we would acknowledge our sin as individuals and corporately as a nation.  Oh that we would humble ourselves before God and put away our idols and call upon the name of the Lord, for He is a merciful God as well.

July 3, 2006
I just listened to a shocking sermon preached to 5000 youth by missionary Mark Washer from a link on SliceOfLaodicia.com.  It was hard hitting to people who may be deluded by today's watered down gospel into complacency that they are saved when in all probability they never heard the true gospel that includes repentance nor saw evidence of conversion in a changed life.  It is worth every minute of the 58 minute length.  Is there someone you need to share this with?

June 28, 2006
On the plane ride home from a business trip I had the privilege to actually have someone ask me about my faith.  I was re-reading Dave Hunt's 1985 book "The Seduction of Christianity" (which he revised recently) and a lady sat down next to me and asked me about it.  I have heard that having some book with a catchy title is a great ice breaker.  I am not one to initiate conversation but ususally respond to someone who does.  I would like to change that but it something I need God to help me overcome the introverted tendency I have.  This lady was probably in her 60's, a Grandma and a scientist/world philosopher.  I think she understood the methods of the Spanish Inquisition as well.  As fast as she could she rapidly fired questions at me of such a wide range on every problem she had with Christianity from the "apparently" different God of the old and new testaments, creation/evolution, the failings of televangelists (Jimmy Swagert/Jim Baker), ecology, morality, death penalty etc. 
I knew within 30seeconds that my faith was on trial and prayed a quick prayer to God for wisdom, to not shrink back and to lovingly address her concerns.  It was a 45 min trip from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, but we packed 3 hours of conversation into. 
I don't know that anything I said persuaded her, indeed that is not my job, but I defended the faith and used scripture as much as possible to explain my believes.  I believe we have to use God's word when approaching people, even those who do not believe.  God said in Isa 55:11  "so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do. "
I will let God's word do its convicting power to change a life. Either they will be hardened or they will be softened, but they will not remain the same.
We are to be prepared in mind and heart for any occasion to bear witness to God.
Col 4:6  "Let your speech be always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. "







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January 24, 2010