And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)



Thursday, December 31, 2009

The folly of sexual indifference? How surrender to lust keeps us from true happiness

The folly of sexual indifference? How surrender to lust keeps us from true happiness.

As we have been studying the Ten Commandments these last several weeks when appropriate, we now come by sequence to the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery”. Over the years I have seen that throughout scripture sexual sins tend to have a distinctive repulsiveness to God. As I have tried to understand this I have thusly collected the following notes. I hope that they become a useful tool to us all.

Seemingly, sexual temptation is not just a reality for males, but more and more it seems that women are engrossed is such cages. Worldliness and world values tend to know the axiom that “Sex Sells”. Unfortunately this is the wrapping of marketing from automobiles, books, films, and hamburgers. It seems that nothing is without a perverted twist. (Perverted means twisted out of proper shape) But the world is not solely responsible, for even those in monasteries have had like Augustine wished to emasculate themselves in order to stem the tide of lust. The issue is the heart. I hope that we can be educated by God’s word and moved by the Holy Spirit to gain that freedom that Christ purchased upon the cross for us. The battle may never be over on this earth, but we can become renewed and pure, the hope of Romans twelve, verses one and two.

What I present here is the negative voice of sex. Perhaps in some future allotment time will permit for me to write in the positive. So please think of these postings as chapters and appendices, not a more complete education.


So herein what follows are notes taken while studying….

Author=s Intentions
As I write, I intend to have less “I” in my life and more of God. Growing up selfish has great detriment to the self later on. As we look into the scriptures with intensity and an open heart for change, we begin to see not just a set of rules, but God. I want to see Jesus. He is the only one bigger than self. If I can see God then self will decrease. This is not about accomplishments or being better than someone else. It is about a right relationship with God, abiding in Him. So in this commandment and all the others, may I or rather we find and know God.


Selected Texts for Comments

"You shall not commit adultery.
(Exo 20:14 NASB)
Plain and simple. No room for adultery and its implicated manifestations. One of the first things that God wants in His people is a Holy Life. Respect for the marriage covenant is to reflect the glory of God and His nature. That is why God hates divorce, what He has joined together man should not separate.
Adultery is the very word God uses to describe how His people treat Him when they go after other gods. In the context of the Ten Commandments it is talking here about marriage. We see that three verses later it indicates further that you shall not covet your neighbors wife. The book of Leviticus (20:10-20) goes into a detailed synopsis of what to do in cases of rape or fornication.



"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mat 5:27-30 NASB)

This deep passage should make us tremble. For it deals with the heart and not just the act. For if the heart is bad the sin is present. The looking here implies to a looking with desire, curiosity and fantasy. Are not the realities of God greater than the fantasies of man? Whatever we desire we worship. What we behold and call beautiful or long for makes it a treasure. God alone is to be the Christian=s treasure.

The Greek word here is not the word for a simple mechanical transaction, (G1492). It is βλέ?ω. Blepo, which means to look at with a perceiving regard.

A mechanical transaction would be such that a person walks by and you recognize that it is a person, male or female. The lustful look considers the desirability of the person. It need not be a lengthy look relative to time. It involves the reason behind the look.

So here we have the standard spelled out. If we have a habit of lusting with the eyes then radical amputation needs to occur. Now this does not indicate we actually remove our eyes or cut off a hand. It means we do those things that prevent wandering eyes. We add internet filters. We get rid of the television. We not only mechanically prevent situations, we seek to change the source of the problem, the heart. (See chapter on changing habits)

Adam Clark states AMany would abhor to commit one external act before the eyes of men, in a temple of stone; and yet they are not afraid to commit a multitude of such acts in the temple of their hearts, and in the sight of God!@ Jesus is reflecting on the heart of man, not just the actions. For actions only reveal what is already within the heart.

Let us consider how the eye leads to the heart. They eye makes us aware of a temptation. This is then interpreted by the brain. It goes against memory, presupposition, calculates value and risk as well as a host of other functions. All of this affects the heart. IT leads to pondering, inquisitiveness, and reactions that come from the nature, whether sinful or good.

A great risk comes here. I call it Spiritual LSD. Like the psychotropic drug of the 60's fame, LSD opens you to unexpected recurrences of the trip. Lusting with the eye fills the mind with images that may be triggered at any moment.
Pornography builds upon itself in curiosity and fantasy. It requires more. Once a visual is caught it no longer satisfies, and another one is sought out. The lust of the eye places oneself upon a throne of fantasized worship. Where the object of the fantasy or actual act becomes the servant of the beholder.

Sending or perishing to Hell is referenced here, as in this sin may indicate the lack of saving faith.



The next posting will look at the method in which seduction often comes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Regaining Peace of Mind


The last several days, weeks for that matter, well, all year, has been a time of struggle. I guess you can’t be “The Persevering Pastor” without the practicality of having to persevere. I will spare the details for right now, but looking back I am thankful, although in many moments I was wrought in utter despair.

The last few days we have had busy schedules, and saw the passing of Praying Grandma. Three weeks ago I did not even think we would have a Christmas beyond the simple things previously purchased. But God has worked awesome things. More on that later too.

But at present, there is coming a clarity to me that must have accompanied the disciples when they woke Jesus to calm the stormy sea. Why oh why can I not learn this lesson, the mind stayed upon Christ is at perfect peace. I must find my joy in the thoughts, promises, and especially the Word of God rather than on my circumstances, He then brings the peace. This is an act of faith. By turning to God to see His faithfulness and promises is a step of faith. We may say with the father of the demon possessed boy “I believe, Help my unbelief”. And we should. I am thankful for the past year of pain now. God has proven Himself God in ways I had forgotten. I have wanted to grow, and growth comes through the need to persevere.

Perseverance is not only in pain. James says to count it all joy when we suffer various trials. In my way of thinking, affluence can be a trial. Now it is not even in the same category as our brothers and sisters whom are persecuted. But I look at it as a trial in the sense of “Whom do you serve”, and “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven”, and the lukewarmness of Revelation 3 that leads to wretchedness.

So the verse above teaches us that peace comes from God, and we can't be at peace without our minds (and hearts) upon Him. Like Paul, let us lay aside the encumbrances that ensnare us. Take time, are you in His peace? If not, why? The blood of Jesus was shed for that peace, let us glorify Him by abiding in Him.

So looking ahead to 2010, my greatest resolution is to get back to that time from which I have departed. It was a time of great growth through the seeking the glory of God in everything. Accompanied with this was unceasing prayer, scripture memory, and meeting with brothers and sisters to excitedly share the awesomeness of God in our lives.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sermon Notes


Here are my rough sermon notes on the Sixth Commandment, thou shall not kill.
I only wish I had more time to clean them up for you.

The 6th Commandment"You shall not murder.
Exodus 20:13



Anger has been said to be drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Much of what I engage in is the dealing with people whom are unforgiving or angry. I can personally share that anger is a gremlin to the soul. Maybe even a thorn in your flesh.

As we look at what is being said here it is more than mechanics of doing law, its about the heart. This is a great occupation of the chief end of man, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. 2 Cor 5:17 reveals that those in Christ have a new nature. God evidences His grace by making us workers of grace. Scripture proves over and over that if we do not show forgiveness or grace, we ourselves are not of God.
• Pharisee and publican John 17
• Woman at the well receiving grace
• Woman washing Jesus feet with hair and tears, receiving grace.
• Servant whom was forgiven yet imprisoned one with a lesser due, did not receive grace.
• 1 John teaches if we do not love than we are not of God.

WARNING: Those who do not give grace are those who do not find grace.

Here is the rub, when we are attacked, wronged, mistreated, it is ultimately a test of our Christianity. We must rely upon Him, not our old nature.
Vengeance is Mine says the Lord, I will repay.

1. Let me give you the context of the nature of God….
'You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. 'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. 'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 'You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:13-18

God is not just proclaiming a morality of action, He is condemning any heart that seeks self reprisal.
• Partiality
• Care for the blind
• Foolish treatment of the deaf, taunting them
• Judging by deferment when you should act
• Hatred
• Bearing vengeance or grudge.

But heart matters matter
• Revere God
• Judgment shall have no injustice
• Reprove your neighbor as a help
• Love your neighbor.

Curing the heart shows the presence of God.
Our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Legalism)
All this has much to do with His kingdom, not of this world.
Sanctification process is the on going daily renewing of the mind and becoming Christ like. Morality is not the objective, it is Christlikeness.
Take steps of prevention, be proactive. Know the joy of the Lord.

Gospel hope
2. Leave no room for fault MECHANICS
No room for name calling, even in the heart
We give an account for every idle word
Make amends quickly
As much is possible on your account.

Murder, Anger, Name calling are all guilty, we will one day give an answer for it.
"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. "Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. Matthew 5:21-26

RACA was a quasi cussing

Gospel Example
3. Christ is our example HOPE IN CHRIST, as He works in our new nature

"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48



So what does this all say about the nature of God?
He is holy, willing to forgive, and He loves.
His love is to be reflected in His children. It reveals to a lost and dying world His great power to change us and give us humility through sanctification. He changes our hypocrisy and gives us the joy of knowing by experience the greatness of loving someone unto forgiveness.
The chief end of man is to enjoy God and glorify Him forever. You can not do that without loving your neighbor and enemies.


Romans 12 talks of being transformed by the renewing of the mind.
Verses of meditation to overcome anger

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:6-8

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. ames 1:19-22





ANTHEM
FROM JOHN PIPER
Avoid- avoid those things which give rise to temptation
No- When temptation strikes, refuse it. Say NO and refuse to give thoughts to it.
Turn- turn away from the temptation and to the promises of God. Here is where scripture memory is the key to success.
Hold- Hold to the promises of God by remembering His faithfulness to you on the Cross and in the past
Enjoy- Enjoy the satisfaction of walking with Christ, worship Him in His provision.
Move- Move to an activity that will keep your mind away from the temptation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Encouragement to press on

Jon Piper has again another timely and encouraging message. Here is the link to Desiring God and the words to consider.
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2093_when_you_dont_feel_like_it_take_heart/

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Legalism


Saints,
Here are a few of my rough study notes from the sermon today. If you read them you will clearly see that they are in a much better order than they were presented. Some of you would like to dialog on this over coffee, sounds great!

The Sabbath and Legalism
1 Corinthians 8 & 10:14-33

Summarizing last weeks, let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.


At this point it may be well to bring up a bit of teaching on legalism.
In worship you can find many false religions clearly. But not so subtle is a twisting of God’s worship by liberalism or legalism. Liberalism is a bit more apparent, and yes legalism gets carried away. Case in point, the burning of bibles and other books that is planned for Halloween night by a Kentucky pastor. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569121,00.html

What Paul writes of in his day with the Corinthians we also face today in forms of the previous examples. Now let us talk about meat offered before idols. It may seem strange to do so, but I believe it will have a great impact on what we are to study. You see, to some the Sabbath is just another day. They may treat all days as holy. (Mind you do they rest all days?) What we do want to avoid is legalism and a diminishing of the Sabbath unto drudgery.

Our Text is 1 Corinthians chapters 8 through 10.
Paul talks of our knowledge that idols are nothing ,and that meat offered before an Idol is nothing, so eat up. But also he notes that if it causes a brother to stumble he will eat no more meat. It is a cultural axiom, but also it is of giving up ones liberty in Christ for the weaker brother.

In chapter 7 he had been dealing with the teachings on circumcision. So our context is placing rules upon people that are unbeneficial, unnecessary, and hard to bear in the cultural context.

Chapter 8 begins with a discussion on knowledge and its perceived value against love. Now a summarization is that knowledge has its place, but without love it is nothing. Knowledge is always incomplete, but love can be full. Knowing God is far greater than knowing stuff.

The situation here dealt with meat eating. In the Corinthians letter to Paul there were two of these situations being dealt with. The eating of meat at a pagan temple, and the eating of meat at a home in which the meat may have been purchased from a pagan temple. It often would be sold at a cheaper price. Back then, the extra meat from pagan worship would be served at restaurants that were associated with pagan worship. A pagan ritual may have even been part of the restaurant services. Paul in chapter ten will illustrate that this is clearly wrong. But another issue needs to be dealt with for conscience sake, there arises the problem that meat offered to you in a home may have been purchased at the temple butcher.

We must remember the context these Corinthians are in. They existed their entire lives in a culture of superstition and idolatry. It would be so steeped in their customs that it would be part of their nature and often unrecognizable. I could compare this to a European I knew years ago who grew up in Germany. Strong in the faith, and upright in many ways. Yet, once in the Bible belt of the South, he had to face brethren who had a very strong opposition to him and his comfort with the occasional beer. There existed a stumbling block. (It existed in both parties of belief)

Verses 7 through 9 talk of the stumbling block that such persons may face. Not all understand. Some can see things for what they truly are, some will see them with the associations made upon it.

Another example I can give is that of a good friend of mine. He enjoys the music of U2. News interviews tell hey claim Christ as their savior. Though I am not as familiar with them as I once was, I hear they often have lyrics of moral uprightness. But for someone who struggles with a past of “rock music”, U2 may be a very real struggle.

Verse 9 grabs us with a very real truth of the cross, deny self. Do not be a stumbling block to your brother. (Mind you reason is implied here, if they want to think behaviors forbidden explicitly by the scriptures are permissible, they must be gently taught the truth) Your freedom in areas of life may very well be a detriment to others. Maybe its your affluence. Your shiny new car discussions may have serious problems for a brother who idolizes materialistic things.

Be cautious of taking Verses 10 through 12 into a legalist bent. They contain a bit of hyperbola. Paul is not saying he would never ever again eat meat, but only in the presence of the weaker brother.

Chapter nine covers a great portion of text that applies to us. Paul is forced to give a bit of his credentials in order to make a point. It is not bragging, its proper contextual teaching. He talks of who he is, what his rights are by extent, and how he is willing to live by the principal of scripture with great love and joy to deny himself for the weaker brother. With all his knowledge, he remains anchored that it is all worthless without love. “For as the excellence of actions depends on the fear of God and the integrity of conscience, so, on the other hand, there is no action, that is so good in appearance, as not to be polluted by a corrupt affection of the mind. “ John Calvin Commentary vol 20, p 280.

As we look at chapter ten, Paul resumes addressing the difficulties the Corinthians wrote about in dealing with the cultural context and worship within the church.

Verses 14 on through 22 illustrate a basic tenant, have nothing to do with pagan rituals. Christians are not doing right by “becoming all things to all men” if they participate in activities of offense to God “in order to win some” as some may claim. (Not the exact context here, but I hope you get the point) Paul implies that we need to use our God given logic and knowledge to make clear judgments upon right and wrong. It is not the meat that is the problem, it’s the participation in an act that denies God.

However, verse 23 and following talk of the liberties that we do have. We may eat meat, for it is nothing, but not if it would bother another under their difficulty of it having been once part of a pagan ritual. Paul gives a great summary for all of life. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

As we live as new wineskins, Coram Deo, and that our existence is all for the glorification of God, let us do all to the glory of God.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sabbath Day


The 4th Commandment
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.
Exodus 20:1-11 and Matthew 12:1-14


I have spent several years looking into the Sabbath. There are many many opinions. I bring this part to you out of a great concern that we are idolizing leisure above the worship of God. I have great concerns that on Sundays when we come to worship we are distracted, tired from the work week and running around, to the point that our efforts are displeasing to God and that we never connect with Him. In short I wonder, quite often about our real love for God.
As your pastor it is my hearts desire that all of us truly know God in a saving manner in which He is truly Savior, Lord, and Love.
With the mounds of notes that I have on the Sabbath, I have come to several conclusions. Honestly, I also have new questions. So in what I shall deliver over the next few Sundays, I hope to summarize for you some essentials. Let us remember a few key points…
• The Ten Commandments are more about Who God is than legalistic rules that no flesh can keep.
• God’s laws are meant for our benefit, leading us to Him and protecting us from evil.


First let us tackle the biggest concern. Legalism & Worship
Throughout the Old Testament is it undeniable that God repeatedly held the breaking of the Sabbath against the Jews. He often charges them with profaning His Sabbath. It was to be a time of worship of Him and of rest. God detests the sniffing at His name and the false pretenses of worship. It was this that was an early step towards idolatry of false idols. They may not have immediately left the Sabbath, they may have mixed Baal with their regular worship. But hand in hand they failed to worship God.
• Sabbath rest was not instituted until the Decalogue was given to Moses.
• In Genesis we never find a command for man to rest on the seventh day.
• Rest did have many benefits for Jew, animals, and slaves.
• In the NT, all the ten commandments are taught explicitly, with the exception of Sabbath rest. The early church did not keep the Sabbath, they kept the day of resurrection for worship.
• The Pharisees legalistically kept the Sabbath. They added commands that were not of the Lord.
• Jesus pointed out that the Sabbath was made for man, that doing good to others on this day was encouraged, and that the Pharisees had it all wrong.

Historically, in post reformation days, the Sunday worship became relaxed in “Merry Old England”. It was called such as the church started being the grounds of festivals and sports on Sunday afternoons. Yet it got out of hand. There were dong fights and gambling, and it became the focus of the day rather than the work of Christ.

Now, legalistically in our day and in the last 100 years, we have had blue laws and have sought to facilitate worship on the Sabbath un hindered. It was then thought that if a person worked on such a day that it would ruin our witness before others that we are Christians. (More will be covered on this in following weeks)

Now I fully admire and respect people such as Truett Cathy and his Chick Fil A stores which are all closed on Sunday. I also have this regard for Hobby Lobby for the same reason. If I owned a business I would do the same as they. But, I am not finding any command of the New Testament prohibiting Christians from working on the Sabbath. Now I do find some provisions to their life that need to be observed.
• They must not forsake the assembling of the believers.
• They must have some time of rest in the week for reflection and meditation upon the graces of God. (Implied by the church)

Surprised?

Me too. But like the Berean brethren, we must take what is taught us and put it against scripture to see what Scripture says.

Many of us have objections to alcohol. I do. However, some of those same people regularly give no regard to other commandments. I say, pass the pork.
Through the NT we often see Jesus bringing clarity to the OT regulations and laws. We now understand murder is on par with anger against a brother or name calling. We see that lust is on par with adultery. This then begs us to investigate how Jesus taught about the Sabbath. Seems to me most of His healings and work that we have recorded were Sabbath events. I find that wonderful.

Now Jesus did teach that if an ox went in a ditch on the Sabbath day that one would get it out. Adrian Rodgers once said that if the ox kept getting in the ditch either fill in the ditch or slaughter the ox. That is a good rational for those making excuses of why they neglect worship while acting “spiritual”.
But Jesus was showing the duplicity of the Pharisees’ treatment of the Sabbath. His intent was to say that it glorifies God to do good on the Sabbath.

And this brings me to my main point. The Sabbath is to full fill the two greatest commandments.
To Love the Lord your God (That is to worship Him) and
To Love your neighbor as Yourself (Do ministry unto others)
For we are created to glorify God, thus we are also to be lights unto a dark world that has yet to know Christ. The fulfilling of the great commission is to go into all the world, and how will the world know and believe our message? It is by the Spirit working in us that we love, not that we keep all the law. The scripture states…

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:14-16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11

Love is the evidence of our Christianity, not law. Yes if we love God we keep His commandments, But without the love, law is useless.

So let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pastor Appreciation


I have noticed a bit of traffic in the blogasphere of people needing ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month. Here are a few very rough ideas to help you. And as a disclaimer, I do not post these for my church's interest or my own.

Pastor Appreciation Ideas

Pay off something he owes.

Give him a gift card to a store he enjoys.

Provide his wife with enough gift certificates to dine out every night for a week.

Bring a gift a day for all of October. It could be anywhere from a chocolate bar to a new MP3 player.

Give his family some time away.

Send him and his wife to Life Action Ministries “The Lodge”.

Have him go to the local men’s store and pick out a new suit, two ties, 3 shirts, and a pair of shoes.

Mow his lawn.

Rake his leaves

Give him a budget to redecorate his office.

If he collects something, provide a few items for displaying and additional treasures for his collection.

If he loves tools, find one unique and specialized for his hobby.

Pay for three free rounds of golf with a cart.

Get him a new gas grill.

Tickets to a sporting event.

Provide a book of letters of appreciation for what he does.

Fly in his kids for a visit.

Bring in one of his friends for a visit.

Buy him a grill pack of meat from the local butcher.

Figure out what items he would like to see done around the church building and get them completed.

Send his wife on a spa day.

Babysit the kids.

If he has little ones, supply a months worth of diapers.

Buy each of his kids a special gift to thank them for being PKs.

Provide a new desk or computer.

If they are in a parsonage, makeover a room for them.

Wash, wax, and detail his car.

Landscape his yard.

Provide a new set of lawn furniture.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

1 in 4 are Muslim

Woke up this morning to a Muslim world.

It is not a shock, but a shock of reality. The Fox news headline this morning, 1 in 4 people in the world are Muslim. We must understand what this means for our ever global butterfly effect world. Muslims, like Hindus tend to believe their faith so much it permeates every breath of being. It is their religion, their lifestyle, their faith and commerce. It is not a label, it is the sole ingredient of who they are. On the other hand, with “Separation of Church and state” we Americans have befuddled out lives by compartmentalizing such aspects. We box God up, and label the side “Break glass in case of emergency”. We call to Him on 9/11, and conveniently put Him back when the sports programming resumes. The church here and now is no different. God tends to partially effect one hour on a Sunday morning somewhere between coffee and lunch and a grumbling about the pastor or music. And I add, how do we ever worship Him in these circumstances.
Yesterday I was reading a family oriented “Christian” magazine that comes to our home. Flavoring the articles was a spice of legalistic mandate that assumed a destiny right of making America “a Christian nation”. I am all for Christianity taking on all facets of our lives and setting forth the code for living peaceably in the USA. However, to assume to force that mindset or legislate thinking without having made a reasonable case with each generation is at best arrogant.
With “The Church” being so doctrinally unstable and a buffet of variable theologies, we find that the church tries to be like the world in a sadly laughable way, all while telling the world to be like them. We “The Church” give entertainment like amateurs, counsel with drugs and boo hoo therapies ala Oprah and Phil, and festoon a creed of love with exclusiveism. We boast of our own numbers, which are inflated and only a half generation away from being completely opposed by those who once agreed.
So far I have been referring to the church in that mass grouping that Christian Bookstores seem to use, equating Jonathan Edwards and Joel Osteen, Luther and Joyce Meyer, Calvin and Warren. The grab for the dollar puts anything scented of the Bible into one mass pot and people blindly trust the playing pipes as authoritative and looking for their best interest. Most people could not biblically define a true church who even lead one.
Christ’s church, the true church is a rare gospel living group indeed. Its not those filled with activity, for even the active will one day cry out “Lord Lord did we not…” (Mt 7) It is those who know Christ that are the church. (Mt 7, John 17:3) The beauty for the true church is the promise of Christ that the gates of Hell will not prevail. Yet we tend to sit back and do nothing. Sad. For I am reminded amongst all the parables of our future that Christ taught about the ten virgins and the lazy stewards. Both stories shared the demise of those who when the time came were found to be lazy and doing nothing, only to be left to the outer darkness.
When a watchman sends a warning the people need to respond. Unfortunately our good pastors have said wake up, only to be drowned out by the noise of narcissism. Has it gone now so far that Fox News even sounds an alarm, only to be ignored?
Yes folks, it is a Muslim world.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,562101,00.html

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Toys!


I often have a LOT of fun playing with the kids. SO here is a fun site that will amaze you. Its the Bible played out with Legos. If you ever have purchased these little foot piercing plastic pieces of imagination you will seen wonder how much it must have cost the builders to create their masterpiece. Enjoy. The Brick Testament http://www.thebricktestament.com/

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take a Step Back


As I have blogged before, we need to take time to get away and get alone with God. Unfortunately the first exclamation people make is "I am too busy". I would agree. IF we are too busy to get alone with God then we are too busy. Idolatry has crept into our life and we need to come before God in repentance.

The last few days I was faced with just such temptation. Things came up, and opportunities presented themselves. But alas, I have been in awe of God and His blessing unto me for taking time in His sovereignty to say, I will take the time to pray and leave the rest up to Him. I completed my duties and packed up to go with 9 other ministers to spent a 24 hour retreat in prayer. Mind you, we did not pray for 24 hours, but we sought God.

Here are a few results...
I was able to make sense of a passage in Ecclesiastes that I knw God was speaking from but I could not apply it.

Focused prayer was completed.

Fellowship with other brothers united us in the Spirit, not competition.

Learning where I was wrong on several assumptions, I rejoice at being set right.

Brokenness before God leads to clarity of heart.

Then the kicker...
Today while meeting with my prayer partner back home, a man stopped by the church. he said he was overwhelmed with the fears he was facing and was drawn to stop in as see if he could pray. What happened next was only of God. After a short time of letting him pray by himself, my friend and I were moved to get out of our comfort zone and minister in grace to this man. he had many many questions. All these ewe had already discussed in our own prayer time and as a result of my being away with God the day before.

I could have stayed in the office Monday. I could have read books. My house had repairs to address and time is always of the essence. However, because God was the priority and allowed to fight battles for me, my heart had been filled that I could minister to one who was like a sheep without a shepherd.

What good does it do to do all the good things and have not compassionate love opun the hurting and needy?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The sin of fantasy

Idolatry comes in many forms. We often talk of making an idol of things, and people. But one concept I am exploring is the idea of personal fantasy as a form of idolatry. These fantasies all revolve around the self and are often quite secret. It may be a fantasy about sex, for isn’t that what the pornography industry is all about self fulfillment of the physical through mental stimulation? It could be the middle aged man in midlife crisis looking back to the misinterpreted days of high school. There is the fantasy of revenge, often planning what one would say or do if given the chance. Taken further, what about all those who are wrapped up in the past? Playing the would have ,could have, and should have game keeps them living in the past and not in the present. How can this possibly give glory to God?

Often it seems what holds us back from living out the fantasy are the repercussions of getting caught. I find this dangerous. Jesus said that if we look on a woman to lust it is adultery, to hate our brother is murder. (Matthew 6) We will give an account for every idle word, and I believe it also implies every thought. For out of the heart flows wickedness. (Matthew 15)

What is God’s view of fantasy idolatry, surly it is that we put this old man off and put on the new. We are to follow Romans 12 and be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To press on as Paul writes in Philippians.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Let us persevere.

Survey Results


Thanks to all who participated. Several days ago I began asking around the question "What are some of your favorite all time books?" The results were a mixed bag. All were interesting to me as they reflect the personalities of each person quite well. I have tried to leave them with little editing. Most are discernible between persons by the fonts used.

Enjoy.

Two somewhat recent (and excellent) books I’ve read were Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth and Mike Farris’ From Tyndale to Madison.
In the fiction department, I’ve always enjoyed just about anything by Dickens, but especially Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Tale of Two Cities.
And last, but certainly not least, the Bible. ;-)
First of all, for me, that would be a very short list to pick from. Literally. Outside of The Bible and my school text books, I read very little. You read more books in a year than I have in my lifetime.

Here are a few that pop to mind:

The Bible.
Experiencing God.
His Needs - Her Needs
Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti
Five Love Languages
I presume you mean besides the Bible.

Here are some:

Till we have faces, C. S. Lewis
That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis
Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Gray
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Genesis and the Mystery Confucius couldn't solve, Ethel Nelson
“Finishing Strong” – Steve Farrar
Here’s some of the Christian Books I have really liked
The Purpose Driven Life, Six Hours One Friday, My Utmost For His Highest, Becoming A Contagious Christian, The Case For Christ, Experiencing God, The Five Love Languages, Blue Like Jazz, God Works The Night Shift, Living Free In Christ, Sold Out, Twelve Ordinary Men, In His Steps
Although I don’t really have much time for any other kind of reading, some books that I vividly remember from days gone by were A TALE OF TWO CITIES, THE SHINING, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, TOM SAWYER, LORD OF THE FLIES, 1984, THE GREAT GATSBY
Old testament evangelistic sermons by Lloyd-jones; divine conspiracy by Dallas Willard; the Jesus way by Eugene Peterson (all five volumes in this "conversations" series are excellent)
1) Experiencing Father' Embrace by Jack Frost

2) From Spiritual Slavery To Spiritual Sonship by Jack Frost
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Man's Search for meaning by viktor frankl is one of them.

Here’s my Top 5 of all time (not counting the Bible, which is number 1 obviously…)
1. A Tale of Three Kings by Dave Edwards
2. Wild At Heart, by John Eldredge
3. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
4. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Terry Tripp
5. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald
Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan (I read this annually)
The Sovereignty of God, Pink
Mere Christianity, Lewis
Sharpening the Focus of the Church, Getz
Decision Making and the Will of God, Friesen
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Packer
Curious George Rides a Bike, Rey
No Place for Truth, Wells
Disciplines of a Godly Man, Hughes
Manual of Theology & Manual of Church Order, Dagg
Ashamed of the Gospel, MacArthur
Tell the Truth, Metzger
Let the Nations be Glad, Piper
The Prayer Factor, Tippit
Spiritual Leadership, Blackaby
Biblical Eldership, Strauch
Peacemaker, Sande
Idols of the Heart, Fitzpatrick
Deliberate Church, Dever
Treasure Principle, Alcorn
Anything by Dabney, Spurgeon or Edwards
Where the Red Ferns Grows
Anne of Green Gables
Pride and Predjudice
Sense and Sensibility
Lord of the Rings series
Don't Make Me Count to Three
Keeping Our Children's Hearts
Narnia series
CS Lewis's Space Triology
NOT FAIR! I've read so many books and so many of them are good. How to pick the BEST???

By the Great Horned Spoon (Fleischman)
Hunt for Red October (Tom Clancy)
The Firm (John Grisham)
Naya Nuki (Thomasma)
Debt of Honor (Tom Clancy)
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Hobbit (Tolkein)
The Copper Scroll (Rosenberg)
I could list many more, but I'll stop here.
Forgot one: Skipping Christmas (Grisham)
Oh, and Austenland (Hale)
And...oh, never mind. LOLOL
Who You Are When No Ones Looking by Bill Hybels
Man to Man by Chuck Swindoll
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Only Road North by Erik Mirandette
Prayer by Yancey

Those are ones that quickly come to mind. The Only Road North is a GREAT read for anybody who likes adventure..it's a true story.

This Present Darkness
Atlas Shrugged
Dune
Great Expectations

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss, A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot.... Of course the Bible. :)

Favorite book I read recently ;
George MacDonald ; “Ministers Restoration”
how soon you need them--trying to fnd titles
1-practicing the presence of god-brother lawrence
2-jesus calling--a daily devotional by sahra young

On Prayer by Andrew Murray, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing God's Will by Henry Blackaby, Humility by Andrew Murray

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coram Deo


This has been an interesting week. Rarely do we hear the Latin term Coram Deo. But it means Before the Face of God. Interestingly it kept coming up on Wednesday in my readings. As I meditated upon the idea of everything we do being right in front of God I became aware of a germination of overlooked things.
The Magnitude of our sin.
The awesomeness of who God is.
The joy of Romans 8.

Stay with me these next few days, as I was looking at a search for holiness, I find what I am really desirous of is Coram Deo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Phenominal Photography

Wow.

I am a big fan of great photography. And today I was astounded by the photography of Michael Belk.

You will need to check out his site at http://www.thejourneysproject.com/
I don't have the words.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Holiness and thoughts from a friend

As iron sharpens iron I have found an exceedingly blessed friendship with a man in our church who quite frankly, asks the hard questions. I do not believe we can share the love of Christ without caring for the welfare of the other person beyond our comfort or public image. That is to say, often the fear of man keeps us from doing our best in the best interest of others.

Yet this relationship of iron against iron has taken time to get to where it is. You can have two men wielding logs in their eye trying to help one another. But if they don't remove their own logs then you have a Three Stooges Discipleship. Here we look for a partnership of mutual consideration and teamwork. So over time, the honesty of sincerely spurring one another on to the glory of Christ has been that which I call rare, and fortuitous.

So Tuesday we met for prayer and hard questions. The question came about as to what I mean about pursuing the holy. Is it for pride? For acknowledgement, for some other reason? What specifically am I wanting to gain from this pursuit?

As I pondered these further under scrutiny, I have been evermore refining my objectives. This is not to become a boast or self assuredness. Mainly, for the good of my church and family I am wanting to further remove logs, specks, and wounds, anything that keeps me from knowing God or being a tool in His hand. He did say "Be holy for I am Holy", and that was not a suggestion.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Holiness and its Workings

In seeking holiness, I want to see the hand of God at work. I pray that within our church we see things that can only be explainable by God. Thus He is glorified. Sunday night, after having had a week where we looked upon God in our suffering, our prayer request time was more about praises than requests. Wow.

Why Holiness?

One of the aspects in seeking God and holiness in my life is simply a desire to put the world behind and seek God. There is a wonderfulness in the journey. I see this being part and parcel with Romans 12, the renewing of the mind.

It is hard to build a sandcastle when the tide keeps rolling in. That is to say the worldly influences will continue, but to build a good castle you need to move beyond the tide line.

One of the beauties of this is also reliance upon God. I don’t believe I have done that to a point of honoring and glorifying Him. So again, this is not to elevate me above anyone, that is not a concern, but it is to find that of God which I have been missing out on. I want to know the joy of being a people separated unto God.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Midlife and Holiness Pusuit


Here go a few rambling thoughts.....

Today I opened my mouth and let flow part of my hearts desire. I desire to know God. To do such I want to be one of those worshipers whom He desires, whom worship in spirit and in truth. For this to happen, I need to be holy.

Granted, I try to be holy. I often fail. I am often very proactive about it, but also I find moments of not persevering but being rather, caviler.

I simply want to see God. I want to know His grace rather than trying to live by law. Not that the law is bad, it shows our need for God. But I hope to take a full year of purposely being sanctified in this area with a wide eyed wonder of God. Oh may I be a new wineskin that He would fill me.

I have a lot of books, but where is the heart knowledge? So I am taking God up on an offer in an important way, I am going to be very proactive about seeking Him with all my heart. He has promised that if we seek Him with all our heart we will find Him. From experience I know I can not do this in my own strength, so I am doing two things to seek Him by His strength.

First, cutting off all hindrances, and setting up stumbling blocks to them. Ie keeping up with an "Iron Sharpens Iron relationships", especially with The Wife. This also means saying no to anything that would diminish my heart toward God. Not settling for the good that will do but seeking God's best.

Second, I am making "how to lists", I have had enough of self help. But what I simply plan to do is go to God first every morning. (Yes I am sure our family will have the unannounced ER visit or four again)

But I simply want to follow and end each day being God centered. Her again are a list of questions to ask myself, and yet not a template for preformance. I want to be holy seeking God and His grace rather than myself dealing in law exclusively.

So walk with me these next 365 days as I blog about the majesty of God in the pursuit of the Holy One.

Morning Thoughts
• What must I praise God for?
• What are the battles facing me today?
• What temptations do I know that I am going to face?
• Who today needs prayer?
• What failures of yesterday do I need to confront today?
• Whom would the Lord have me share the gospel with?
• What does my memory verse mean?
• Whom today am I to encourage showing compassion too?


Evening Thoughts
• How has God revealed Himself during the day?
• What empowerment did God give me today in victories?
• How shall I praise Him, giving Him the glory lest I think it as being by my own merit?
• What areas have I failed in?
• Of what must I repent?
• What unexpected blessing came today? How have I shared this news?
• Did I praise Him, counting all things joy, even the disasters and torments of life?
• To whom did I show compassion?
• What decisions were made by waiting upon God for direction?
• How did the scripture reading from this morning compel me to walk with Christ?
• What have I complained about?
• Have I participated in gossip?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I am alive


Just a note to those who check in on the blog, I am alive. I have been overwhelmed with fiscal year end stuff, and working on our kitchen remodel as the fam is going out of town.

I also have been working on a sermon series on keeping the Sabbath Holy. I do not normally preach by series or topic as exposition tends to keep things cross centered. In preparation for the series I have about 15 sermons ready. Soon I will post the rough draft notes/ starter notes to this page.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rest


Ah, where do you go for rest? We small church pastors rarely see a sabbatical. And if you are like me you go away to return only to have everything you left behind waiting for you in urgency.
Our recent vacation was like that. All sorts of problems prevailed. God reminded me that problems will always exist this side of Heaven. But He also reminded me that He uses these problems to bring us to Him. Romans 8:28 and following, James chapter 1, and the testimony of the apostles has affirmed these things.
I would however like to point out a ministry in this country that seeks revival of the church and the refreshment of pastors. Life Action Ministries of Buchanan, MI is right on target. You can find them at lifeaction.org. They have several ministries, many of which include
Revival Summits in your church for lengths of 4 days to 14 days.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh Demoss
The Lodge a retreat for the personal renewal of pastors and their wives.
Life Action Family Camps Each summer and twice in the fall Life Action supplies families with a place of respite. The gospel is displayed and families are drawn together. It combines the best of connecting with each other and connecting with God. For over ten years my family has made this a summer time ritual. It is more of a celebration. Our kids would rather go to camp than to Disney World. Each year has built upon the previous to give our family essential times of seeking the Lord together. I have seen several works of God over the years here. And as of this writing, something that rarely happens there has happened in abundance, in six weeks twenty people have come to know CHrist as their Savior, Lord, and Love!
If you need encouragement to press on, Life Action is a great source to equip and refresh you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How did Noah look at it?




I have worked in the construction industry. In and of itself it is an entirely different world than most are used to. Just think, the typical home fix it job lasts twice or three times as long to complete as expected and requires two trips to the hardware store. Multiply that thought by Pi for each job subset. Now add the interruption of phone calls, incompetence of others with poor listening skills and or work habits, weather permitting, and you have the construction industry. It would look like this

Finished product = (est $ + Lowe’s*2)*Pi + Press # for more options + (Break time and not my job man) / Acts of God.

Personally, acts of God are your only hope. So getting into this project I had some experiential expectation of what I would encounter.

You see, memorial day our basement flooded. We did not have flood insurance, and the insurance did not cover the loss in any fashion. So Bank of dad to the rescue. After three estimates we chose a contractor and paid a deposit. We have ordered by price comparison shopping all the materials to finish the job, paint, carpet, baseboards, the endless rollers, and odds and ends. All of it stacked in my garage on top of the furniture from the flood. So far I count four trips to Lowe’s. I have rearranged the garage three times to be able to get stuff in and to be able to paint baseboards for the install. My air compressor quit working too. Sounds like I could sing the twelve weeks of remodel. On the first day of remodel my contractor gave to me, much false hope….

The saying is true, “If your marriage can survive a remodel it can survive anything”.

Our house is a wreck. Things are lost. Cleaning merely involves rearranging the deck chairs and turning out lights. The sarcastic joy of it all is that old line “Why won’t he return my call”?

My solution, its all stuff. Wood, hay, stubble. I am fed up with it keeping me from my time with God by rescheduling and false hopes, but isn’t that the point. It is a testing to see will I keep perspective and seek God’s help (acts of God remember) rather than doing it my way. Noah had to persevere too. The main thing was not the ark but the promises and name of God.

Tomorrow, I fight dirty, I will get the church to pray.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Music Part 3


As the third part of my installment on music that inspires us to persevere I wanted to spotlight Sovereign Grace Music. They can be found on Facebook as a group page at http://www.sovereigngracemusic.org/

Last December I discovered them through C J Mahaney's web log. I have found that these musicians are biblically sound and challenging. The music itself is quite separate from the world, even though it may be meditational, rock sounding, or other categories. All that I have listened to has captivated my mind to the things of God.

Personally, I love their Come O Weary Saints CD. It may be my favorite, but also the Psalms CD brings your wandering thoughts to plateaus of peace. If I were to recommend a third disk, one you can actually read the bible with and have undistracting background fill, is the CD THe Valley of Vision.

Sovereign Grace is reasonably priced, ($6 to $12 range) and you will find the quality and depth greater then most other resources. I love that their Facebook group will often offer free MP3 downloads. I just ripped 7 songs this week. When you visit the store you will find you can listen to a sample of the songs, and often frin further free MP3s. Included in their website are PDF downloads for guitar chords, lead sheets, piano arrangements and lyrics. All you need for Sunday praise band.

I hope you will take advantage of this great music. It has quickly become the soundtrack for all I do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Songs of Perseverance


>My Favorite Songs of Inspiration to Persevere

As I look to perseverance I find that songs that are consumed with scriptural truths tend to be the most powerful. It seems most of the best ones were written several decades ago. Currently I am finding some contemporary songs that wow me too. Tomorrow I hope to share with you a great source for God centered contemporary music.

My music tastes are varied, but to inspire they must be God centered. I personally dislike “In the Garden”, and “Love Lifted Me”. Both seem much of a self centered aspect of I am special above all others tone. Self esteem is promotion of self over God (Remember deny self, take up your cross, and follow Jesus) But this blog entry is not meant to be a critique.

Now, please keep this in mind. I find that we need Christian music for two purposes. One purpose is for pure entertainment. Why should we listen to AC DC, Big and Rich, MC Flavor of the week, or any other “artist” who fails to glorify God but stands opposed to Him? There are times in the car or cleaning house where music is a good background for what we are doing. Mind you the entertaining Christian music we listen to ought to be theologically sound. One contemporary hit has great melody and guitars, but one line talks as if the cross was motivated by a desire to save me alone. That is so wrong, I don’t know where to begin. The cross was all about God showing His nature, not my merit or worth. (I digress)

Then there is the need for music to draw us to the cross. As a caveat, a few months back I attended St. Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. This is where R. C. Sproul pastors. As we walked in a small orchestra, strings, horns and an organ played selections from Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. Never had I been so moved by such orchestration. My heart leaped with anticipation for worship. This music was different than that of the general world. It was pregnant with otherness. Music that is soli Deo Gloria ought to be other.

So music ought to draw us to the cross. It should remind us of who God is and who we are in that perspective. Often it should be just like the Psalms, here am I a wicked sinner, I plead for you to hear my prayer. Great worship music ought to have an otherness, but that is not to say it can not include guitars, drums, and choruses. It also should not be solely about how it makes me feel but how does it lead me to look at God?

That being said, here is my list of songs that motivate me to persevere….

And Can it Be, Charles Wesley

Amazing Grace, John Newton

Holy, Holy, Holy, Reginald Heber

Silent Night, Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

A Mighty Fortress is our God, Martin Luther

Blessed be Your Name, Matt and Beth Redman

In Christ Alone, Keith Getty & Stuart Townsend

Mighty is the Power of the Cross, Chris Tomlin, Sean Crain, & Jesse Reeves

There is None Like You, Lenny Leblanc

The Wonderful Cross, Isaac Watts, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves and J D Walt

Tomorrow I hope to share a source of some new music that hs been greatly lifting me since January!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Songs to Persevere Survey




A few days ago I was motivated by some great music. I also in that time I was in a store and heard the new Miley Cyrus hit. It is a motivational song that inspires the secular world. It is much like an anthem with a crescendo that holds a tag line of promise. Mind you I have not analyzed nor heard all the song, for my thoughts turned to the motivation behind many songs.

It seams we always sing about matters of the heart. Usually songs have a love motivation, even if it is a motivation for the love of revenge. (I am however excluding the Silly Songs with Larry types)

As Christians I believe that every song ought to motivate by giving glory unto Christ. So I went about asking my mixed bag of friends and acquaintances to please send me their insights as to what songs help them to persevere.
The replies were quite diverse to say the least. So herein I hope to write three articles on the subject. Today I will simply list the responses. Tomorrow I hope to post my personal list, and then on Thursday I want to feature a source of music I have found in the last several months that has greatly motivated me day after day. Remember, we are not to idolize the musicians, but the God and creator of music.
Enjoy!


Artist - Matthew West
Song - “The Motions”
Lyrics - http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/matthew_west/motions.html
Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dva6-Yu3zkI&feature=channel_page
Artist – Brian Head Welch
Song - “Washed By Blood”
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/brian_head_welch/washed_by_blood.html
Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zhjbjHUWrQ
Artist – Demon Hunter
Song - “My Heartstrings Come Undone”
Lyrics - http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/demon_hunter/my_heartstrings_come_undone.html
Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFvZJECemdA
Rescuing men ~as~ God rescued us,
Kurt St. Louis


A song that played a big part in my life at one point is "Have Faith in God". The second verse burned into my brain... "Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered." I was a growing teenage boy praying that his Dad would stop drinking and come back to church. That prayer was never answered until just three weeks before he was murdered (in 2001).
I am also very fond of "It is Well" when during hard times of life. Mom used to sing it at our family piano when she was discouraged or down. Lisa Keune sang it upon request at Dad's funeral.
Fred S. St. Louis, MO

Loving God Loving Each Other - Gaither Vocal Band
Find Us Faithful - Steve Green
God On The Mountain - Lynda Randle
My heart was also on songs that inspire faith this morning....God at work
Love ya brother,
Sid St. Louis, MO

There is only one song that is constantly on my mind...Amazing grace. I either hum, or whistle that one all the time.
Dad

Song 1: The Motions by Matthew West. So many times I feel like I'm living the comfortable American life and I wonder if I'm missing the point. Am I too comfortable? Taking life too easy? Do I need to get more 'dirty?'
Song 2: Jesus Freak by dc Talk. My all-time favorite song. When I die, I'd hope people would look at my handsome body in the casket and say, "He was a Jesus Freak." I want to be an "ardent enthusiast" of Jesus Christ.
Song 3: While I'm Waiting by John Waller. Sarah and I don't know what the future holds and this song is a good reminder for us to worship Him while we are waiting for Him to give us the desires of our heart.
Song 4: Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw. I'm a dreamer and I want to live each day to the fullest (hey, it's biblical, we don't know what tomorrow holds!)
Okay, I know you said 3 songs, but I threw the 4th one in there for extra points.
I was hanging with my teens the last couple days and I busted out a quote that I first saw on your bedroom door many many years ago, "He who hesitates is lunch!"
Have a great one,
Dale Jr. hawaii

Not in order necessarily but these are the first 3 that came to mind.
"God is in Control" Twila Paris
"Testify to Love" Avalon
"Lord of Eternity" Fernando Ortega
God is in control, He is the Lord of eternity and He loves me I'd never make it as a preacher
Joe North Georgia

I can't remember the title of the song, but a line is My faith looks up to thee thou lamb of Calvary. I'm sure you have heard it. Hope this helps your search.
Patsy St. Louis, MO

Well, top of the list: I Now Live Remixed, by Crystal Lewis (“I now live because Christ died, and though he had suffered, he suffered it all for me.”) Get’s me going every time I hear it.
Number two: Jesus is Just Alright, by DC Talk – This song is just a rockin’, I’m-glad-I’m-a-Christian kind of song
Number three: Child of Eden, by Joy Williams (“I’m a child of Eden, I have been; but I won’t look back, It’s just my past, the story doesn’t end”) great song reminding me of my future when I spend too much time on my past…
Grant, Springfield, IL

1. “Amazing Love” by Charles Wesley.
2. "It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio Spafford
Johnny, St. Louis

Aint No Grave by Russ Taff; You Are My King by Newsong; Shackles by Mary Mary
Roger Jacksonville, FL

SLOW FADE Casting Crowns
FROM THE ALTAR TO THE DOOR Casting Crowns
Tom Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What a week!


Here are a few rough notes from the Sunday sermon. We wound up delving into Paul’s encouragements to the Philippians. Enjoy.


Our week encountered…
Flooding
• Basements flooding
• Church help, being the church
• Car washed into the lake
• Person missing
• Dam collapse?
P---------‘s father, E______ M______ breaks his neck, and later two ribs.
D______’ daughter L_____ goes to be with Christ.
C________ C_______ mother has a stroke

Thoughts
Do not trifle with God
Judgment is real, used to be a time when our country would stop to fast and repent.
2 Chron 7:14 Trouble has happened, Repentance anyone? Our country used to repent and fast.
Romans 8:28F

I
n Philippians Paul writes to the church to encourage them. They had real persecution going on, and that is not to be too quickly associated with out temporal inconveniences. But in all our struggles we should look to Christ through the gospel message. For it is the power, and if in these days we fall away, what would happen in worse situations. So we hear Paul’s encouragements…

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5)
The church partners in the Gospel. The gospel is the purpose and being of the church.


I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, (Philippians 1:12)
How do we work our situations to become a platform for sharing the Gospel?


For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:29-30)
Suffering and hardships are to be counted all joy. They are for our purification and knowledge of God.


I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. (Philippians 2:19-26)
God often send a Timothy or Epaphroditus to be our encouragements in the Gospel. Reminding us and encouraging us in the things of God.



But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
Grace is here. Worldly pursuits are but rubbish. Nothing matters but gaining Christ.


Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Pressing on shows the treasure, the love we have for Christ above all else. We don’t “go to pieces” or quit, but we press on for Whom we really love.


For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19)
Some have pursued Christ our of worldly gain, which is no gain at all.


But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20)
Our citizenship, Paul reminds us of where our treasure and allegiance lies.


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Now that these things are covered, we are directed to rejoice in the Lord. Our greatest need has been met! Rejoice from that standpoint.


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Guarding our minds and being transformed.


Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (Philippians 4:11)
Peace, contentment, despite the circumstances. The summation of faith in Christ, the Gospel being worked in us.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book Review


Folks, let me recommend a great parenting book. Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp is one of the best parenting books I have read. It has a lot of thought provoking discussions that will lead you to a greater perspective, and more efficient way of parenting. Why did I not find such wisdom sooner?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good article from Desiring God

Here is an encouraging article

The Main Thing to Rejoice About in Ministry
May 17, 2009 | By: Bill Walsh
Category: Commentary

Praise God for the times of effective ministry that he allows us to experience. If you're like me you get excited when you see the fruitfulness of any ministry that God calls you to do. It is a thrill to see him at work, putting to use the gifts and callings that he has granted to us for the cause of the Kingdom.

But in Luke 10 Christ challenges us to test our own hearts, by examining what we rejoice in most.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10: 17-20)

We easily slip into over-emphasizing results rather than rejoicing most in our redemption. According to the Lord, the deepest rejoicing that we should seek is the joy of the impact that the Gospel has made on our own hearts and lives.

Some questions to regularly ask ourselves:

* Do I rejoice that God, by some mystery to me, chose me before the foundation of the world, due to nothing in me, and wrote my name in his Book of Life?
* Do I rejoice that God, from the beginning, had me in mind when he was carrying out his plan to redeem a people for the glory of his name?
* Do I rejoice that God sent his Son on a mission from heaven to become the Word made flesh on my behalf, in order to save me from my sins?
* Do I rejoice that Christ lived perfectly without sin, fulfilling the law in my place, in order that its righteous requirements might be fulfilled in me by grace through faith?
* Do I rejoice that the Lord Jesus bore my sins in his body on the tree, so that I could receive forgiveness for every sin that I have or will commit?
* Do I rejoice that day by day, these truths are sinking down into my soul and, as C.S. Lewis says, re-working my house; re-building, re-furnishing, preparing me for greater works ahead and ultimately for a greater Kingdom ahead.
* Do I rejoice in counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord who is bringing me to God?

Why does Christ tell us to rejoice first that our names are written in heaven? Might it be because he knows that the mustard seed of faith that he plants in us is what opens our eyes and lives to the Gospel in the first place? It is only because he chose us for salvation that we even have the possibility of reaching out and being a part of his work in bringing others to salvation and spiritual growth.

True ministry effectiveness and impact springs from a heart radically changed by the Gospel. No God-granted mysterious seed of the Gospel in us—no tree of lifelong fruitfulness.

Lord, make us aware and vigilant for where our deepest rejoicing lies. Keep us focused on allowing the amazing truth of your redemption to shape our hearts while we labor in your field.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John Piper!

This is the newest article from Desiring God.

No, Mr. President. Killing Is Killing No Matter What We Call It.
May 13, 2009 | By: John Piper
Category: Commentary




It's a magnificent thing: The only newly-originating life in the universe that comes in the image of God is Man. The only newly-originating life in the universe that lasts forever is Man.

This is an awesome thing.

And, as everyone knows, that reverence is not shared by our new President, over whom we have rejoiced.

He is trapped and blind in a culture of deceit. On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he released this statement,

We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.

To which I say:

* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women; you are authorizing the destruction of 500,000 little women every year.
* No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for one million little human beings every year.
* No, Mr. President, killing our children is killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. You may say it is a private family matter over and over and over, and still they are dead. And we killed them. And you, would have it remain legal.

Mr. President, some of us wept for joy at your inauguration. And we pledge that we will pray for you.

We have hope in our sovereign God.

(From the sermon: "The Baby in My Arms Leaped for Joy.")

Armor of God Thoughts


Sunday I taught on the "Armor of God" from Ephesians 6:10-20. In order to persevere we MUST live in the abiding strength of God and not of ourselves. I understand that the armor is afforded to us by the work of Christ upon the cross. Thusly the armor is available if we walk by faith in Him. So below you will find a chart and scripture for abiding and persevering in His accomplished work. I apologize for it's difficulty in reading.

The Weapons in Christ, Imagery, Christ’s Name, Scripture,

Truth, Belt, Way, Truth, Life, John 14:6
Righteousness, Breast plate, Righteous, 1 Cor 1:30
Ready Peace, Shoes, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6
Faith, Shield, Faithful One, 2 Thes 3:3
Salvation, Helmet, Salvation, Heb 2:10
Spirit & Word, Sword, The Word became Flesh, John 1:14
Prayer, Prayer, Interceding, Rom 8:34

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

My scripture for the benediction related to this. It was But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Bookends of the Day

As I seek to renew my mind I find that the critical points of reference tend to be the resting and awakening of each day. These bookends are full of opportunity. So here are a few meditative thoughts for introspection.

Morning Thoughts
• What must I praise God for?
• What are the battles facing me today?
• What temptations do I know that I am going to face?
• Who today needs prayer?
• What failures of yesterday do I need to confront today?
• Whom would the Lord have me share the gospel with?
• What does my memory verse mean?
• Whom today am I to encourage?


Evening Thoughts
• How has God revealed Himself during the day?
• What empowerment did God give me today in victories?
• How shall I praise Him, giving Him the glory lest I think it as being by my own merit?
• What areas have I failed in?
• Of what must I repent?
• What unexpected blessing came today? How have I shared this news?
• Did I praise Him, counting all things joy, even the disasters and torments of life?
• To whom did I show compassion?
• What decisions were made by waiting upon God for direction?
• How did the scripture reading from this morning compel me to walk with Christ?
• What have I complained about?
• Have I participated in gossip?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Awesomeness of God- To Do List


I love lists. SO here is a list I am working on at present for a study guide I am preparing for my church. In this guide I am looking for ways to get us to renew our mind and see the Awesomeness of God. Please do not copy this list without first gaining permission, thanks.

Things to do to see the Awesomeness of God

Prepare the heart.
Pray
Honestly look for God over all the world
Remember God’s plans throughout history.

Much of what we are doing here has to do with pausing and thinking, and looking long and insightful enough to see that which you have never seen. The awesomeness of God also causes us to express worship of God. Paul when writing about the cross and what Christ has done for us would break out into doxologies, such as found in Ephesians.


Stargaze. Get up early and watch, think, reflect.
Capture a sunrise on film.
Study a map of the world, especially where missionaries are, and the unreached.
Use a microscope
Use a magnifying glass on paper, leaves, an insect.
Observe animals in the wild.
Try to take an interesting photograph that displays the beauty of creation, see how many details you recognize for the first time.
Swim in the wild.
Study biology. Even dissecting a frog will reveal wonders.
Roll dice and look at the odds of simple things happening. Try to see how hard it is to get a dice to roll sequentially from one to six
Observe a drop of water on a window. See its ionic properties and its reflectiveness.
Take a walk examining rocks and bark. Look at the details again.
Study the biographies of people who experienced tragedy and hardship but rejoiced in God, Paul, William Tyndale, David Brainerd, Richard Wurmbrand, Brother Andrew, Corrie Ten Boom.
Write to missionaries and seek what life is like for them. We have adopted a pastor in Kenya, it has been a great experience.
Sing. Sing what ever comes to heart.
Make a list of the wonders of God.
Create a blessings book or journal to write out the blessing of God in your life and keep a list of answered prayers.
Set up a terrarium, or a “wildlife” exhibit in a fish tank. Add seed and watch the root system grow, and add bugs, turtles or frogs. Take time daily to see the symbiotic relationships.
Observe the fingerprints and skin texture of both sides of your hand. How does it know when to change, how do the cells know exactly what to produce?
Consider the ant, watch a colony at work.
Listen to the sounds around you.
Read missionary magazines.
Engage in time with children, have them tell you Bible stories.
Spend time with a lonely elderly person, let them tell stories of God.