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)
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
People ought to make resolutions. Ministers are no exception. We often, not just at years beginning, set about looking at our lives and evaluate them. This is part of the practice of taking the sacraments. As Paul said, "we ought to examine ourselves" as not to partake in an unworthy manner.
Therefore, as the new year is about to begin I have pondered and considered these following ten items to pray about as a daily petition.
1. That every week I would lead and disciple a person in the saving grace of Christ.
2. To not say anything dumb. Yes, that only wisdom come from my mouth.
3. For personal holiness for the church's sake.
4. That He lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. Thus progress in sanctification.
5. For my thoughts and actions to be redemptive with all people and situations.
6. God minded/centered thinking in everything would become my heart nature.
7. To stop and worship daily.
8. That I measure the success of myself, my church, and "heroes and others" by God's standards.
9. That I be faithful in all endeavors.
10. That joy permeate all things giving God the glory.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
A few reasons why you should not cuss
While shopping in the Christmas season I have encountered people with heightened emotions. Distracted and aggressive drivers are causing problems on the road. Aggravated shoppers more fastidiously claim their spot in the aisle, and bristle. Many greet one another more joyously, and tune in with the music being played.
One particular fellow I encountered stood out. While shopping in Lowe’s he began a dialog with a salesman helping me. I truly believe if counted at least ten percent of his words fell into the swearing category. One in ten. Ten for every one hundred. A full six minutes of blatant expression every hour. I walked away wondering why he even cussed at all? His over use of emotive words has me pondering. Thus, I have come up with a list of reasons not to cuss.
Swearing reveals your hard heart. It says that you can be difficult to deal with.
When expressing oneself with such language, others may simply write you off as being an exaggerating pessimist.
Vulgarity offends and reveals that you have little consideration of others
It reduces your ability to express anything that truly deserves exclamation. It is akin to an e-mail in all caps.
It does not garish any sympathy for your situation nor elevate you to a position that we should awe or respect.
Cussing simply shows a lack of being able to convey the emotions you have in an educated manner.
The use of such language does not solve any problem. It may, in-fact, compound the situation. It also wastes time. People who are problem solvers will fail to ascribe a value to your opinions, thus it removes you from the group of solution oriented people.
From a God-centered point of view, it is a blasphemous decree against the sovereignty and plan of God. It fails to recognize His goodness and lacks faith to trust in Him to work good from the situation. It is an affront to His ways, purposes, and joy.
I am sure this list will promote two things.: create thoughts of reform on the subject in our own lives, or incite more cussing. Emails will surely follow, some attempting to push the envelope of toleration. But regardless, our words reveal our hearts. What do we want others seeing within us?
Friday, December 17, 2010
"There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough- a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice, which costs nothing; and is worth nothing".
It is not whom you would think of first.
Stay tuned for the answer.
The answer is J C Ryle, in the 1880's.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
As we continue with Rev. Ryle let us now look at the next statement. Permit me here to get preachy. For I do agree with him that too often evangelism is watered down and ineffective.
"On the other side, many graceless people are deluded into thinking they are "converted," because under the pressure or animal excitement and temporary feelings they arc led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt, and rind fresh reasons for neglecting religion altogether. The antidotes to the state of things I deplore are plain and few". J C Ryle
I can find no better evidence to support these statements than the parable of Christ known as the seed and the sower. I have witnessed many persons “come to faith” only to fall away. Unfortunately we often give these folks a false sense of security. My first church claimed to have over 450 members when they first described themselves in the church search process. Upon my arrival I found that their roles often consisted of simple names with no supporting information that were in a three ring binder. Several persons were found to be deceased, and even more were only listed by first and last name with no contact information. When pressed as to how they came to be considered members the reply was “they came forward and we voted on them”.
My dear Christian, this is a travesty and mockery of the church. Here people whom made an emotional decision or one in a time of working a deal with God were nowhere to be found. You too can surely attest to those who once were a part of the church whom have now fallen away. Surely the parable thus teaches us that they may give evidence but lack real sustaining root. These are not disciples. These are not Christians.
People in this state are looked at by the unconverted mockers as “having got religion”. I can attest that in my Godless days of seeing people “saved” and the mockers commenting that they will soon “get over it”. Thus we do the name of Christ a disservice by allowing folks to have a get saved quick ability. True people can be saved in an instant, but what are they saved with or to? Is it gospel lite? Is it a pitch that assures better prosperity? Was their sin ever dealt with by the Holy Spirit? These are the questions I ask.
We are easily given to impulses. Notice the catchy displays at the cash register in most stores. How about children., and adults alike, that “need’ a souvenir at some stopping place only to have it as garage sale fodder a year later? Many people wear Mickey Mouse shirts per capita at Disney world, but go to your average shopping mall and they will exist in very sparse numbers. Why, it is all because of group mentality. It is a desire to belong. But Christ is not Mickey Mouse. Christ is the atonement and He and his message are the crux of life.
I say all this to say that gimmicks and methods that are used to gain a response rarely lead to true conversion. Our evangelism must be complete in laying out the gospel. People should not add Christ to their list of mental occupations; they should abandon all these and cling to Him only.
Friday, November 12, 2010
(5) Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man's pleasure, and as if there were no such text as this, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." (Rom. ix. 16.)
This is a great truth. Just the other day in a small group setting I encountered someone who is living with the struggle of sin keeping them from Christ. They were under the guilt of sin. So much so they had wrestled with the problem of sin that their unsaved condition led them to conclude that there is no point in trying to resist as they would only fail. Mind you they are a pretty “good” person on our human standards, and not looking to justify themselves. I think those who have overcome much by way of sanctification can identify with this issue. Many Christians do feel this way also. We hear how we are to be obedient, moral, and holy. Yet we fail again and again. We hear often sermons on Three or ten things to do to live a certain way. And herein lies the problem, too often we struggle with sin in our own strength. We can’t keep God list of ten commandments let alone a sinful man’s perspective list. What we need is the gospel!
My friend who is not under the direction of the Holy Spirit came to the logical humanistic conclusion of the problem. However, under the Holy Spirit we have a means of dealing with this.
As J C said, “but of God that showeth mercy”. So often we try to rid ourselves of sin in order to be pleasing to God in our own strength. What God desires, for His glory, is that we by faith take the promises confirmed by the cross and find our peach in them, not our own doings. The natural man tries to “do something”. The spiritual man sees what has been done already. We grow up in a society that fends for itself. God is glorified in what He has done, our job is to recognize it. When we see God for who He is then in thankfulness we act accordingly. (John 7:36-50)
We can not impress God. We can not compensate for our sin. The efforts to do so are sinful by presumption and taking another path to God, thus they themselves are sin. Simply put the way to God is through Christ. (John 14:6)
So here the Gospel has power, it reveals our need for God, the provision of God, and the grace of God. Anything less is man centered philosophy.
The gospel message removes in hope in ourselves. It places all upon the back of Christ in the cross. In our next installment we will continue with looking at Rev. Ryles Gospel centered evangelism. We will see how it is evidenced and how it is not evidenced.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sunday I covered a few topics related to government and the Christian. The sermon audio can be found at holidayshoresbaptist.org. Below I am posting my unedited notes. Some find these useful. Mind you neither the notes or sermon are the finished product. Both need some refinement by our living unto Christ.
Governments Exist Under the Sovereignty of God for the Glory of God
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
“Authority” in these verses
Caesar Augustus; -ruler
All the world registered- law and organization
Quirinius- Governor of Syria- sub ruler
House & Linage- organizational subset
Registered with betrothed – duty, in the legal bond of marriage
God was using the day and age to bring about fulfillment of His glory.
God in His glory governs all timing. He puts things together in the right moment for His purposes that all are in subjection to Him.
At this time there existed for the first time ever..
- Pax Romans- Roman peace
- Safe travel by highway, good roads (This would later aid in the spread of the gospel) (Do not squander such privileges)
- Efficient sea travel
- Abundance of food supplies- this afforded better travel and standards of living, thus education, and community gatherings
- Good water could be found. Aqueduct systems
- Rome allowed state governments and thus people could have a national identity within their country. The Jews were not persecuted as before.
Governments are subject to God’s plans. They are tools in His hand.
The divided kingdom of Israel and Judah was a result of David’s sin. However, each king had a choice to make. Those who glorified God were blessed, those who did not were condemned. God does not have to bless at all. But He do do so when we glorify Him.
The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" They said, "Caesar's." He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. (Luke 20:19-26)
Here, we can see that God’s laws are above those of the government. This will play into how or whether we should participate in civil disobedience.
Subject to Governments
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Rom 13:1-7)
North Korea, Nazi Germany & Communism, as well as Babylon and Assyria?
Evil governments are also a tool of God. We see in the OT that Assyria, Babylon, the Philistines, all were used to bring about punishment on those who did not fear God. These governments were later punished themselves. The matter is is that bad governments rise when people fail to give God glory.
- Nazi German rose to power in part because the churches in Germany were liberal in theology and sided with Hitler. (A few did not and it cost them)
- Communism rose to power because the church failed to stand. Note that the first thing communism seeks is glory for itself and not acknowledgement of God.
- I ask, is God glorified more in the secret house churches of China and North Korea, or by those in the USA that sniff at opportunities to gather and rarely “worship” without counting the cost?
Should we obey Laws of an unjust government? Well we must answer what is unjust. That that is unjust is still God’s portion. Vengeance is His, He will repay. However, we should oppose that which is clearly wrong with the proper means. For example, we should in no way support the holocaust of the times, abortion. But we also should not use means that are contrary to scripture; such as blowing up abortion clinics and shooting doctors.
Further; Bad government reveals our need for God. It shows what we sinners are capable of when not restrained by His glory.
Good government is a test- do we rely upon God or on the economy, or morality, or like mindedness and personal opinion for our peace and well being?
Good or bad is not the issue, the issue is will the people of God glorify God.
Here is the goal
Be oriented to the goal of making His glory known in the government
Take every advantage that God gives you in your local principality, county, state, civic group, school graduation, military, national government, stamp club, neighborhood watch program, and live to the glory of God.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Eph 3:8-12)
All levels of Government are tools of opportunity for His glory.
Based upon these scriptures today……
If there is a ruler appointed above you, then seek to know how God is glorified in this. It may be in your enduring hardship and yet rejoicing in the hope of Him.
Make your hope in Him your motivation, not a personal rest. Be the diamond standing out against that black velvet of opposition, reflecting the brightness of His glory.
Live without complaining. But rather make a case for the Gospel. Show how the values of God are better than the laws of the land. That laws of community and government ought to be based upon the ten commandments and the glory of the Creator.
- If you disagree with welfare systems, don’t just criticize, but illustrate the superiority of the church meeting needs unto the glory of God. Also show how when a person is paid to be lazy it removes form the an illustration of their need for a Savior. They become more self absorbed thinking they deserve special treatment, rather work to see how dependant we are on His goodness.
- Don’t just call a politician corrupt, but show how the service of self and special interests exalts man and the majority suffers, Show how when God is glorified the nation prospers.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Tit 3:1-3)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
J C Ryle states…..
(4) The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. Yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There may be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once "rejoicing," as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot at once rejoice.
“How do you feel”? It is a question posed over and over to the newly converted. Though well meaning it can have a cancerous effect. To equate the salvation of a person with a feeling is most counter productive. It alludes that our salvation is in proportion to our joy. What about those days when you just don’t “feel like it”? When problems arise and you are angry, agitated, nervous, stressed, or despondent, have you lost your salvation”? The answer of course is no.
I can honestly remember dozens of times that “sales pitch” evangelism has been made only to follow a commitment prayer with “How do you feel”? It has even happened to me. I praise God for 1 John. Lately as I reread this great book I am reminded that with great compassion John writes to remind us of where our assurances lie. They reside within the working of the Holy Spirit abiding within us.
Now do not get me wrong. Emotions are highly important, especially joy. Remember, we were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. How can we enjoy someone and glorify them without joy in them?
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well He made a profound truth known, “God seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth”. The truth is the doctrines, the correct theology, and adherence to the word of God. The spirit is that joy and treasuring, that love for God that glorifies Him above all the entrapments of the world or pleasures of sin. Thus as Ryle states, it is essential to have joy. A worshipper without inward joy is a fake, or at best confused. I often tell our people to wake up every day and realize that their greatest need has been met in Christ upon the cross. With that perspective we ought ot have overcoming joy in our trials, we ought to be worshipping in whatever we do, and unto the glory of God.
As C S Lewis states, “Joy is not complete till expressed”. Thus, to be a worshipper means that joy from within is then poured forth. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Let the joy of the Lord be the strength to worship, and do so based upon His truths. True worship is an upward spiral. Truth brings joy which brings a deeper understanding of truth that brings more joy. Praise God that we were created to be worshippers in spirit and in truth.
Let us return to the topic of assurance. Ryle notes that assurance is not necessarily saving faith. You can believe something and be wrong. Columbus believed he had made the voyage to India. Doctors once believed that by bleeding patients they would save them. We need to believe and find assurances in Christ. We grow in this by discipleship. And yet, you can truly believe and not have assurance. I think of the father who came to Christ after the disciples could not help his son. He cried to Jesus “I believe, help my unbelief”. We are told that if we have faith like a mustard seed we can be saved. Remember, new Christians are often marked by a lack of knowledge, which is born through experience with Christ.
We all have moments when we lack assurance. These can be most beneficial. That is to say we do need to question our salvation. Are we trusting in ourselves or totally in Christ? We need to look at motives, experiences, and at the moment of commitment were our emotions getting the best of us. Then we need to call again upon Christ. Beg for His presence and saving work. We need to see our need of Him and treasure Him, thus making it certain to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. Questioning my salvation at times has served to further reveal my need for Him and to wane my self reliance. This moves us from making salvation a moment in time experience (the get out of Hell Free Card) to a changed life experience.
Truly, we can not ascertain in the experiential moment if someone is truly saved.
The solution is time abiding in Christ. Just like 1 John reveals as well as the parable of the seed and sewer. Those who abide, last, and bear fruit can be then assured of their salvation.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Our third installment of Evangelism via J C Ryle
(3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers!
Just last night my eight year old daughter came to faith in Christ. I am trilled that the quiver of arrows God has entrusted me with is now complete in Christ. As she was sharing her decision with me I wanted to restrict my emotions for the very reason Dr. Ryle addresses above. I do not want her thinking that Christianity is an emotion state of being.
Ryle is spot on. Too often methods of sharing your faith are too simplistic. What we are saying her is that faith is often reduced to a feeling. It is also legalistically explained as blunt thoughtless confession as a magical mantra that qualifies as good enough to gain you an inheritance in Christ’s blood. This simply is not true. As Jesus said it is like the Pharisees making someone twice as much a child of hell. It give a false assurance. Better the Christian who doubts his/her salvation than the lost sinner who has false assurance. But better still is that complete Christian who strives for an authentic living of the faith.
Ryle mentions as James does that the devils believe, and they shudder. The demons believe with greater faith that Christ is the savior, that He is Lord. But He is not their love. The problem I often see in Christianity lite is the lumping of God in with all our other delights. We do not revere Him not have His in holy sanctified regard. We see Him as serving us, rather than our sinfulness atoned for by who He is. Great and costly value is attributed unto God by the truly redeemed. No one should be led to "pray a prayer" without this. This is what differentiates us from demons.
As I listened to my daughter last night I had her explain to me what she meant. We often talk of Savior, Lord, and Love being three concrete identifiable factors of being a truly converted sinner. I have written on these before in this blog. A search within its contents will find it. To be a Christian requites an acknowledgment of sin, the need of Christ as Lord, and we must love Him. We cannot love Jesus “and”. It is to be Jesus alone.
My great problem with sales stylized evangelistic programs is that too little is either spent on the conviction and repentance of sin and also the place of love for God that is at the heart of Christianity. They also often play to the emotional fear of burning in Hell. This is an aspect that should not be ignored, but what you save them with is what you save them to. Remember, my theology was skewed by thinking this was all there is. So last night I needed to apply a proper dialog and counsel for the salvation questions needed for my daughter. Mind you an eight year old girl is not going to have a theology degree. But what we can look for is the workings of the holy Spirit. The majority of evangelistic methods I have seen are mere sales pitches. Everybody basically desires a “get out of Hell free” card much like life caricatures a Monopoly game. We simply must not do this.
God can save someone in an instant. Often He puts the right person with the right other person and one of these methods does work. However, I can drive a nail with a rock, but a hammer is much better. One reason I base my conclusions upon is how few people remain in discipleship within a year later making such a decision. Many fall away just as Christ shared in the seed and the sewer example. Yes they receive the word, but being rootless they wither quickly.
So what should proper evangelism contain? Check the following entries as we continue to learn from Dr. Ryle.
Jonathan Edwards wrote a great book The Religious Affections. In it he debates and clarifies the need and purposes of emotions in worship and faith. Though it is a higher level read it is one of those books that every Christian ought to read and apply. If you have ever “not felt like a Christian” or had an emotional experience where a great commitment that now has gone by the wayside this book will give profitable insight. In short, it also condemns the fanatical means of “prosperity gospel”.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
One thing to note is when this was written. John Charles Ryle lived from 1816 to 1900. Our considered work was published in 1879. This was about the time that Charles Finney was transforming the way we did church. Finny was the one whom is credited with “The alter call”. Now I am no expert on Finney, but what I have learned is that he utilized showmanship and emotional theatrics to gain converts. Numbers are what mattered. Thus today we see many of the same devices employed for the appearance of the activity of God.
Let me go on record to say that I am not dismissing the alter call, just critiquing it. I believe that an alter call may have its place. But what is rather to be preferred is the puritan means of “Inquirery”. Inquirery was an extensive visit of the minister to the home of the parishioner. Here the minister would have scheduled time, often two hours or more, to inquire of the spiritual condition of the home and to allow the members of the home to ask direct pointed questions. It was not rushed. It also revealed the consummate nature of spiritual urgency. A minister was afforded the time to ask pointed and specific questions. Typical Sunday school answers would not suffice. Thus the result was often either the making of true disciples or clearly leaving the unconverted with an unquestionable understanding of how the scriptures applied to their condition. Thus my critique of Finney is that he closed the deal quickly and the seed of the word that was sewn was upon the rocky soil at best.
That being said, let us turn again to what Ryle teaches of evangelism.
The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor.
I would agree. Many people it seems come to Christ in a gradual progression. In our church we have a woman who can not point to a single moment when she can say was definitive. She simply says that she knows the Truth that sets her free.
(2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God's law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to "come to Christ" is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins.
Here is my largest agreement with Ryle. When I “was led to Christ” as a young child it was a quick sale. I did not understand about holiness to any degree. I just wanted a “get out of Hell free card”. I then went about with a notion that I was saved, could not lose my salvations, and could freely sin. I had no idea of the real guilt of my sin, and thus no real understanding of the glory of Christ or the cross. I was nearly through seminary before making this discovery. It also wasn’t until years later that I even went to a greater depth in this understanding. I have missed out on so much worship and knowledge of God, sinned aggressively, all because of a liberal doctrine of sin and holiness. Too often I saw God loving me because I was lovable, after all He died for me right? I did not understand that He died for me based on whom He is , no on whom I am.
We must make this clear. We need to know our sin.
Let us look at it this way, by helping the sinner to see their sin it causes them to recognize the discrepancy between themselves and the holiness of God. Thus then they see the value of being saved. In America today we fail to see our depravity because “we are rich and have no need”. We give little regard to God because we find “fulfillment” in self esteem and its antecedents. If there were any area I would personally love to have developed within me it would be the understanding of my sin and His holiness. For too long I did not have this taught to me. Thus my years of “being a Christian” were characterized by creating theological dodges of responsibility or culpability with ever sermon I heard or dilemma that I came to. But when we have no recourse in the sight of His holiness we become like Isaiah crying “Woe is me”.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Over the last several weeks I have been reading through J C Ryle’s book Holiness. I find it to be a great challenging book that stirs the soul. We need books like this for often we settle for comfortable platitudes. However, a disciple of the Lord need to be challenged and spurred on. The sanctification process that moulds us into the image of Christ is one of action, removing complacency. Thus God has given us J C Ryle.
Below I quote his criticisms and corrections for evangelism. These bear serious consideration. I have often found that current evangelism is much like a sales deal with a time share. The only difference is time share salesmen often take more time in presentation. Over the next few blog entries I hope to walk with you and the good Dr. Ryle in an analysis of evangelism as it should be. As it stands, please read and ponder the truths he shares.
The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor. (2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God's law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to "come to Christ" is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins. (3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers! (4) The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. Yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There may be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once "rejoicing," as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot at once rejoice. (5) Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man's pleasure, and as if there were no such text as this, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." (Rom. ix. 16.)
On the other side, many graceless people are deluded into thinking they are "converted," because under the pressure or animal excitement and temporary feelings they arc led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt, and rind fresh reasons for neglecting religion altogether. The antidotes to the state of things I deplore are plain and few. (1) Let "all the counsel of God be taught" in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both. (3) Let the variety of the Holy Ghost's works be honestly stated and admitted; and while instantaneous conversion is pressed on men, let it not be taught as a necessity. (4) Let those who profess to have found immediate sensible peace be plainly warned to try themselves well, and to remember that feeling is not faith, and that "patient continuance in well-doing" is the great proof that faith is true. (John viii. 31.) (5) Let the great duty of "counting the cost" be constantly urged on all who are disposed to make a religious profession, and let them be honestly and fairly told that there is warfare as well as peace, a cross as well as a crown, in Christ's service.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Today I have the privileged of hearing from a guest blogger, my oldest son. he wrote the following article for school on Misanthrope. Enjoy
Should the truth be spoken no matter the consequences? Alceste (the main character in the play The Misanthrope by Moliere) thinks strongly so. He goes on to say that, through the truth “My intention is to attack openly and directly the entire human race.” But should this be so? In The Misanthrope Alceste believes that the entire whole of humanity has been corrupted with lies, and so, he takes upon himself to set an example of his thoughts pertaining to truth. In Alceste’s case, he has developed “a dreadful hate of [human kind]… some because they are wicked and mischievous… and others for indulging the wicked and for not hating them…” in this paper I shall discuss the ideas of Alceste, why they are right, and why they are wrong.
I) Alceste’s thoughts on truth.
In the beginning of Alceste’s journey of thought, he finds himself talking to a friend of his, named Philinte. Philinte and Alceste begin a debate regarding the worldly state of truth, as Alceste attacks the worldly state, Philinte defends it. They go on to say – [Philinte:] …would it be sensible—or seemly –to tell thousands of people just what one thinks of them? Dealing with a person one hates or dislikes, should one announce to him how matters really stand? [Alceste:] of course. – Alceste believes that to correct the human state of lies, that one must be absolutely truthful, yet it does not matter to him the state of which the truth is given, or received. In the play, Alceste makes a mess of things with his “truth”. He unintentionally insults a man of high rank, blatantly disrespects Marquises, and loses the love of a woman. Despite all of this he still holds to his belief, and is eventually so abhorred with humanity, that he leaves to find a place untouched by society in which he is to die.
II) The Truth to Alceste’s Truth
Although Alceste’s reasoning is not exactly sound, and is very much over dramatic, there is some visualization of fact in it. The state of mankind has been corrupted with lies and deceit. The manor of our thoughts and actions that disgust Alceste are a result of a sinful nature. Alceste states it as thus – “I’ll see by this trial whether or not men will have enough effrontery, enough wickedness, treachery and perverseness, to do me such an injustice before the whole world.” Alceste does not realize that by becoming angered, and somewhat rude, he is doing the exact thing he hates. It is true to see though that the world is in a corrupt position. Men are sinning and plotting against one another, murder and other capital crimes are committed, death and poverty is abundant. Alceste does see a world that is fallen into ruin, and for that we must be wary of ourselves.
III) The Flaws to Alceste’s Truth
Though Alceste sees the state of humanity, he does not no how to combat it. His plan is to combat lies with truth, but his truth is hurtful to others. Alceste is eventually hated by many people, and is sent to court for some of his “lectures on the truth”. Alceste is unable to fight against lies with truth because he is only fighting sin with a different type of sin. Although lies are never acceptable, neither is rudeness and disrespect. People can not be swayed from sin by sin, only the power of God can do so. Alceste’s lesson is never learned in The Misanthrope, but hopefully a real person would be revealed his logical flaw, and see the truth (pun unintended).
Through this paper we have learned about the sinful state of man, and how not to defeat lies. We have read this debate of the truth, yet it seems to me that I have left some needed truth out of my text, such as, how to combat lies, and where hope for humanity can be found. As for the first of the two, the best words I can use are found in the Bible -- Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Eph 4:15 – the truth must be spoke in a kind yet firm way. This will show the best of both Alceste’s and Philinte’s arguments. As for the second point, it is found in the same verse, we are to grow to be like God, the only perfect person, and in him humanity can find hope.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Saturday November 6th we will be meeting for a White Horse Inn discussion group. Great coffee and fellowship, with challenging discourses in theology will be a banquet for the soul.
Already we expect Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans!
We will meet at Holiday Shores Baptist Church. You can find them at holidayshoresbaptist.org.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Thanks for praying for me and the pastors on the retreat.
Wow. What a great time. Every six months I have a great opportunity through our association to take a 24 hour prayer retreat. We travel to Lake Sallateeska and run from noon to noon for a time of rest, Biblical meditation, and prayer. Usually eight to twelve pastors participate in the time. I can truly say it is refreshing, encouraging, and equiping.
Being a bit of a drive from home I usually prepare a day ahead by praying for the time and the men involved. Then I select a few sermons to listen to along the way. This time I traveled with Ravi Zacharias and listened to his teaching entitled, The Spurious Glitter of Pantheism. Being that I have several Hindu friends and have been asked by them to read and understand their teachings, this message presented me with a blueprint of understanding. We can never stop learning if we want to seek to glorify God. My hope is to now use this instruction to be able to help them understand the authentic gospel as well as relate to them in a deeper way.
While fishing (I arrived a bit early in order to do so), I listened to R C Sproul. The things taught on Renewing Your Mind can help us to meditate. Going deeper with a text and the axioms of Christianity is a great way to encourage biblical meditation. Thus R C is always one of my favorites.
I mention Biblical Meditation, and some question what I mean. I loosely define biblical meditation as a fast from distraction with the purpose of drinking in the scriptures and truths of the scriptures in order to renew the mind and live more like Christ. Not being the brights bulb on the Christmas tree, I need help in jump starting my thoughts. Ravi Zacharias and R C Sproul are two of the living men of our day whom I find stimulating towards this need. A few others in that realm would be Michael Horton, C J Mahaney, John Piper, and Don Carson. Another to note of late is Jerry Bridges, his book Respectable Sins is working me over.
That being said, I mention the living guys, but proceed with caution. You never know how a man will finish the race. But the dear departed that I consider friends through their writings would include Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, J C Ryle, Richard Sibbs, Thomas Watson, Martyn Lloyd Jones, A W Tozer, and if I kept going I man never finish this update.
My thoughts take this trail because of a bible study we had on the retreat that involved the topics of Elisha, perseverance, and the value of ministry. We talked at length of the self getting in the way, of how to properly evaluate success, and the need for time with God. Out of the discussion came the question, "Was the death of Jim Elliot worthwhile?" (Jim Elliot and 4 others gave thier life in 1949 trying to reach the Auca Indians of Equador with the Gospel. Following their martyrdom, thousands have cited their sacrifice as a calling card for obedience to the mission field call.) We also talked of one of my favorites Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in a Nazi prison and wrte the book The Cost of Discipleship. Thus the reminder to us all there is always a cost for discipleship, and though we co not see it now it is always worth it.
So it seems the lessons learned for this prayer retreat to be constantly remembered and practiced are these...
- Ministry is a messy business. It is costly.
- Because it is costly, and often the cost is life, it is supremely valuable.
- It gets its value from the glory of God. For anything to glorify God must not be for the glory of self.
- Thus those who lose their life for the Gospel actually save it.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Just this morning I thought of three appendix sections to write. They are as follows...
- 100 Reasons to Not Quit the Ministry
- 100 Quotes of Ministry Perseverance
- 100 Scriptures to Press On in Ministry
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
God is Glorified in Our Perseverance
Scripture is overwhelmingly about the glory of God. It is not about the people, yet God uses the people. The real revelation is found in how God worked in people. Just a quick glance at Hebrews eleven shows a “Roll Call of Faith”. And if we look closely, each person had to deal with adversity. For many, their adversity is their crown.
Thus having preached through Job, and being aware of many persons struggles here at church, I find a balm in the doctrine of perseverance. Romans 8 is well quoted. It gives us reason to hope.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:28-31)
The goal of suffering is refinement. Now no discipline seems pleasant at the time. Those who hope in Christ endure. They are well aware that “Those who endure to the end will be saved”. They fear falling away more than the pain of perseverance. Thus, when they choose to hold onto Christ despite other offerings and temptations, they glorify Him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my “Heroes”. Having fled Germany for the safety of the United States, he simply could not be at peace. He knew that in order to glorify God in the ministry he was to have in Germany, he would need to return and suffer alongside the folks. Thus after only 26 days in America, he boarded a ship to embrace suffering for the glory of God.
So now a bit of teaching, a to do list if you will. (I often rebel at the thought of to do lists as spiritual guidance)
What To Do In a Time of Testing
First should be the setting aside time regularly to pray. Our great temptation is to “Fix It”. Yet God is working, we need to be on His agenda and timetable. Fixing it is not faith unless God has led in the go ahead.
Second, Watch. Usually, right after praying if we do not have an answer we tend to rush into the first possible solution that comes along. (In dating they call it rebounding. It carries the connotation of trying to save face rather than sense.) Watch, do not rush. Look for what God brings your way.
Third, at the risk of being redundant, I advise you to be slow. Do not make fast decisions. This is especially true if you have not been abiding in Christ for some time. Take time to know God and the ways of God. Look for scriptural truth that will set you free for peace in Christ, not necessarily a removal of the situations at hand.
Pray some more. As it has been said, “the battle is won or lost in the prayer room”.
Rejoice. Be doctrinal. In times of testing meditate and vocalize in the precious promises of God. Spend time knowing who God is and His grace. Value the gospel message as your great prize. James says to count it all joy. SO in your trial ask God to open your spiritual understanding. Look for the working of Romans 8.
Then repent. Often we short change the working of God by failing to recognize that problems come when we sin. You may be living as righteously as you know, but check with God on this.
And to complete the cycle, start the process again. The relief of testing is best by the hand of God. Then when the trial is over, worship, make His glory known.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Saints, Friends, and others,
I truly believe that when God speaks to us, and with every sermon we hear we will be tested. Every sermon I preach becomes the test of the week. I often fail. When God is preparing us for something He seems to always give us a scripture. It may be in our devotional book, it may be in an e-mail. I am not saying all texts will be tested, but I am saying that God has a great way of provision by sharing with us truths that are necessary for worship of Him in all circumstances. It also amazes me how after failure in one of these tests I will pick up a book I have been reading and then find that the very next few paragraphs speak to the subject at hand. Often this causes me to wonder, "If I had only spend a few more moments with God, would I have succeeded"?
Lately I have been tuned into the topic of resting and being God-centered in our thinking. Too often we are so busy we can not stop and let our mind roll through the glories of God. Our church has been challenged to be godly. This is not mere morality. It is the constant consideration of God in all that we do. Often I struggle to rest. My mind is always racing and I am figity with projects. the family has been away for a few days and after completing the obligatory number of home improvements I found myself longing to rest before God. Thus to be obedient I took some time off yesterday. So, packing a few maps, a camera, and memories I trolled about Illinois in an effort to visit some childhood places.
Along the way I stopped to take several photographs. Many were of cool looking church buildings. Once to my main destination I sought out familiar landmarks. My cousin lives in the house my grandfather was born, lived, and died in. So that was on the list, I also adventured as I did thirty years ago to a state park that still holds more passion for me than an all you can eat buffet. I saw the old town that was safe to walk through for a kid, back in the day. The old park is there where I once found four dollars in change in the mud after a July 4th carnival. The Carnegie library still stands where grandma worked and I learned to read. It is now a military museum. I went by the old church we attended and found the very swing set I played on at age four. All this was done in looking at the providence of God.
Upon visiting my grandparents grave I summed up all my thoughts of the morning in a prayer of thankfulness to God. Heritage and rest. These are two things that the Hebrews of the Old Testament needed to spend more time on. We need to remember our heritage, where God has brought us from, through, and to. Rest, we need to rest in Him, for our our righteousness is filthy rags.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
We are in Job 38
Silent Before God: Rethinking Godlessness Job 38
Text to read Job 38:1-18
God now speaks to Job. The book of Job is not about Job. It is about God. God is always center stage.
The problem being addressed here is Godlessness. This week I finally was able to hear someone put to words a long time thought I have had trouble formulating. Jerry Bridges in his book Respectable Sins points out that deeper than pride, godlessness, or the lack of concern for God’s point of view or ways is a condemnable sin. Godlessness must occur even before pride.
We think too much of ourselves and not enough of God. This is translated into Ungodly or godlessness. Four responses are possible to this challenge:
· Yes others do that don’t they
· I should pursue this someday
· Meditate in wonder, repentance, and change.
Godlessness or Ungodly= little thought of the ways of God.
* His statutes
* His name
* His nature
* His promises
It reduces God to a vending machine, convenient when you need it.
Often we think of the call to repent as being more for morality. We repent and then fall right back into sin, why
* Self strength
* No change
* Never renewing our minds to Godly thinking.
The call to repent is quite often a call to change the thought life. To meditate and know God.
Job was moral. But his thoughts were skirting God. They were Job centered not God centered. His thought life was in error. Eight times in this book godlessness is referred to, more than any other book.
Choose this day whom you will serve.
(Jos 24:15) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Soli Deo Gloria
Do all things to the glory of God.
1Co 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Verses on ungodly
(Rom 4:5) And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
(Rom 5:6) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
(1Ti 1:9) understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,
(1Pe 4:18) And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
(2Pe 2:5) if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
(2Pe 2:6) if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
(2Pe 3:7) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
(Jud 1:4) For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
(Jud 1:15) to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
(Jud 1:18) They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Over the last several months I have "crock potted" a few ideas. This means that for a while I have stewed about a few thoughts and occasionally stirred them up till I think they are ready for serving. Thus I am working on two aspects of Persevering Pastor that I think fill a need.
The first effort is accumulating a library for you. This will be a library of interviews with people in ministry in regards to persevering. I am burdened for the alarming amount of pastors who are struggling in the ministry. Personally, If God would ever make it available for me, I would love to be a pastor's pastor. I would greatly enjoy bearing another's burden, praying with them and their wife as they go through trials. Thus at present I am praying through the most relevant questions to ask and assembling a list of people to interview.
Secondly, I am thinking of writing a book. The purpose of this book would be to encourage pastors of small churches. I do not want to knock larger churches, but as a small church pastor in a cornfield I often feel left out. It seems that many of the programs, conferences, literature, and advertisements lend themselves to bigger and better. Often it is the large church with many numbers that is celebrated. Praise God for that. But let us not overlook the faithful who God has assigned to smaller places of worship.
The life of a small church can be discouraging. I know others fell this way too. We sit in our offices with few to talk to and receive few moments of encouraging inspiration from those whom we work alongside. This is simply because of the isolation.
So if you wish to send in your thoughts or encouragements, or need prayer yourself, please address them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Often we fail to persevere when there is no longer any hope. One thing that leads to lack of hope is the failure to wait upon God and get His perspective. Often I have resolved to give up an go m way on something. Then God intervenes and turns my sorrow to joy. Romans 8 is quite applicable here. I some times joke that God's hobby is proving me wrong.
Another reason akin to this method of loosing hope is that we put our values in the wrong place. I highly recommend The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson, Soli Deo Glori Publications. It is a puritan writing, but very readable. It ought to be the first book read by anyone trying to get out of debt.
Watson has a great way of drawing us upward to look upon things from a God centered view. Perhaps this ought to be one of those annual reads that keep us in proper perspective.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Remember, the Bible is a book not about personalities and how to's, it is a revelation of an almighty God whom overcomes the world. Take this perspective when making decisions.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Pride says, "work it our yourself". It also whispers "What will people think of you if you admit you really can't do it all?"
But Christ says "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest.
The command in John 15 is to abide in Him, not do it on our own. It glorifies God to seek Him out rather than self help.
I was reminded of these things today. Last night I was up till 3:00am and again up at 5:30, all in order to fix of all things a computer. Now it is befuddling my brain and my time with God. I was more Martha than Mary. Thus I find myself loopy and dizzy. I lack sleep. I am also feeling defeated. These are never good for a pastor. When we are physically weak we are easy to fall to spiritually weak. So in this, God prompted me to seek prayer. I sent out a blurb and God encouraged me through two praying women.
Pastor, minister, deacon, Christian, God gave us the body of believer to work together. It is self, or idolatry to do it all on your own. When you are weak call out for help. I have always been well refreshed by those whom God puts in the church for prayer. If you are struggling in ministry seek out those God abiding persons of prayer. Have them pray.
I hope to return tomorrow with another point to post on perseverance.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
At Christmas I wound up with an Ipod touch. I say wound up with it as its arrival came by a variety of means converging at the right moment. So it is now about six months into the mainstream of my daily routine, and I must say I welcome the technology.
I am usually found about once a week downloading new apps for testing and use. Often I only get the free ones. Most become bore some to me after a while, some only last minutes. Others though have proven to be worth the money I have invested. So without further rambling, Here is a list of what you may find on my iPod.
Mobicip, this browser has replaced Safari for me, and my kids. It is an internet filter that you can customize and require a report sent covering all its use. I highly recommend it for personal integrity.
ESV Bible- Wow the ESV and its free. It also has the functionality to add personal notes. This is a real must have.
RTS Seminary- I have been using this app to learn the Westminster Shorter catechism. Great app.
Accuweather- Ever since The Weather Chanel fired some of my favorite hosts it seems their quality has gone done. (I still like Jim Cantore and Mike Sidel) Their app shows it too. But Accuweather has a great app. I love how it gives me the hourly, radar, and 15 day forecast. Even better is how they incorporate "real feel" in thier reporting.
Facebook- It is a must have.
Onplace.com- I enjoy being able to quickly access some of the better preachers, John MacArthur and Alistair Begg.
GF Card- this card is a winner. I have Celiac Disease. This card explains my condition to servers at restaurants with ease, all in about 40+ languages.
For Games I really enjoy...
Unblock Me- It causes me to think. The relax mode is unwinding.
For Relaxing I enjoy Sleep Machine and Ambiance. For differing reasons I can can choose which app of sounds to sleep to. I paid for the full versions and do not regret it.
Personally I get a lot of use out of Desiring God, Renewing YOur Mind, and The White Horse Inn.
I hope to periodically come back and update this entry. AS I learn more I discover more and more useful nuances for my Ipod. I would welcome any that you wish to share.